Photo credit: Allison Shelley for EDUimages

The start of this school year isn’t what anyone hoped it would be. ​Concerns about perceived learning loss and students’ and teachers’ physical safety in light of the Delta variant, as well as arguments over such issues as masking and teaching anti-racism, have clouded our excitement about returning to school. The well-being of all students and staff must be our foremost priority.​

But disruption can also present opportunity: This year, let’s reimagine how we go back to the school environments and relationships we cherish.

By creating learning experiences that are designed for discovery — that affirm and tap into each…


What would it mean if all of the places where children are growing and learning were designed to meet each child, the whole child, where they are and help each and every one develop to their fullest potential?

The Essential Guiding Principles for Equitable Whole-Child Design outlined by the Design Principles project can be used to create learning settings that do exactly that, by centering on:

  • Positive developmental relationships
  • Environments filled with safety and belonging
  • Rich learning experiences and knowledge development
  • Development of skills, habits, and mindsets
  • Integrated support systems

We know that a healthy context for learning and development…


Researchers know so much more about the brain and development than they did when the 20th-century U.S. education system was designed. And we can now use this knowledge to design a system in which all young people have access to high-quality opportunities for transformative learning and development.

The Design Principles project synthesized what is known from the science of learning and development into the Essential Guiding Principles for Equitable Whole-Child Design. Building from the science of learning and development, each of the five elements is grounded in a substantial body of research. …


Listen to the episode on Turnaround for Children’s website. Also available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and Podbean.

Today, we continue our conversation with Zaretta Hammond.

Listen to part one here.

In part one, Zaretta explained what it means to be a culturally responsive teacher — and why it’s necessary not only to stimulate intellectual curiosity, but also move beyond cognitive redlining and transition students to cognitive independence.

In part two, Zaretta extends the analysis, outlining practical steps for teachers to become, ideally, personal trainers of cognitive development. …


Listen to the episode on Turnaround for Children’s website. Also available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and Podbean.

This may seem obvious: Students learn best where they feel a sense of safety and belonging. The science of learning and development shows environments that foster these feelings open up the brain to learning.

But what if children find themselves in spaces that teacher, educator, and author Zaretta Hammond calls “inequitable by design,” that prevent instead of promote safety and belonging? What can teachers and schools do if the design of our education system is an obstacle to learning in and of…


Learn about how one district in California is using the Toolbox to re-engage students as they return back to in-person school settings.

When students started returning to classrooms, educators weren’t quite sure what to expect. What would it look like for students to see their peers and teachers after months or even a year apart? Would students be so excited to fill their social “buckets” that it would be hard to engage in academic tasks? How long would it take to develop routines and habits of learning in a school setting? How would we support kids with re-engaging with their teachers and each other?

A District Snapshot

Like many districts, Folsom Cordova Unified School District struggled with engagement for students online and even when they…


Turnaround for Children 180 podcast with Newsela Co-Founder and Chief Academic Officer Dan Cogan-Drew.

Listen to the episode on Turnaround for Children’s website. Also available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and Podbean.

The science of learning and development reveals how academic growth is fueled not just by the acquisition of knowledge, but from dynamic relationships between students, teachers, peers and what they experience.

So what experiences can education technology offer to support those relationships and spur engagement and motivation to learn? That’s what Newsela seeks to create — by tapping into every child’s curiosity in accessible and relevant ways. …


Three tips from the Turnaround for Children Toolbox to welcome students back with rich opportunities for connection and agency.

Turnaround for Children: Learning Is Integrated

After a year of extraordinary disruptions to nearly every aspect of our daily lives, signs of new ways forward are emerging this spring.

Districts across the nation are navigating the return to in-person learning and making a commitment to rebuild in new ways. With this shifting context, parents, teachers and leaders are asking important questions: How can we ensure a safe return to school? What will it take to address the unevenness of learning opportunities that have occurred over the past year? How can we use this moment as an unprecedented opportunity to redesign schools for equity?

The pandemic has…


Listen to the episode on Turnaround for Children’s website. Also available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and Podbean.

In our previous episode, we heard from Christina Theokas of Turnaround for Children about how their Well-Being Index was designed and is meant to work. In this episode, we get to hear details from the field about how it works in action.

P.S. 340 is a K-5 school in the Bronx, NY. Frankly, it’s one of those incredible schools that goes well beyond reading, writing and arithmetic to help students learn and grow.

P.S. 340’s mission, stated clearly on its website, is…


Christina Theokas on The 180 Podcast.

Listen to the episode on Turnaround for Children’s website. Also available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and Podbean.

How do teachers know how their students are doing? Grades? Grades measure how much students have learned. Attendance? Attendance measures whether they show up.

But as the science of learning and development shows, how well children learn depends on how well and how safe they feel. So it’s important for educators to have a true picture of the whole child.

And, of course, the urgency and challenge to understanding how children are doing has only increased during the pandemic.

That’s why Turnaround…

Turnaround for Children

Turnaround connects the dots between science, adversity and school performance to catalyze student development and academic achievement. www.turnaroundusa.org

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