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Steps for Building Better

Health in Schools    


Based on his own research in health education and independent studies by others, Charles Basch, of Columbia University’s Teachers College, identifies 11 measures available to school districts and their top leaders for addressing the relationship of student health to student learning outcomes.

  1. Establish a group of teachers, parents and community members to provide vision, leadership and coordination for the school health program (usually called a school health council or team).
  2. Let teachers and staff know you care about this issue. One of the most tangible ways is to include health goals in annual school improvement plans.
  3. Create policies that reinforce your commitment — such as eliminating junk food vending, supporting daily physical activity and adding curricular time to help students learn and practice social-emotional skills.
  4. Collect and use health-related data to establish priorities, determine best practices and evaluate ways to improve and judge school health efforts.
  5. Select health problems as priorities based on how many youth are affected, their relevance to improving teaching and learning, and the capacity of school-based programs and services to address them.
  6. Pick quality programs, ones with evidence of effectiveness, and then provide training and support to teachers to ensure proper use.
  7. Coordinate health programs as part of a larger school improvement plan.
  8. Provide professional development for teachers and staff to improve their capabilities to address students’ health needs that interfere with learning.
  9. Build a positive school climate that supports students’ connectedness and attends to their mental, emotional and social health needs.
  10. Connect with community organizations with a stake in these issues.
  11. Emphasize programs that help students develop life skills, such as working in teams, dealing with failure, anger and frustration, and persevering through personal challenges. 


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