Doug Lemov's field notes

Reflections on teaching, literacy, coaching, and practice.

01.22.21Deaning is Teaching: Introducing our New “Dean of Students’ Curriculum”

On the Teach Like a Champion Team we think Deans of Students* play a massive role in building strong school communities. On any given day you can find a dean having a thought-provoking or challenging discussion with a student about accomplishing goals or changing habits, collaborating with families and stakeholders, or perhaps developing character education lessons for their school. In a dozen ways every day, deans are teachers! 

That’s why we are excited to share a new tool we’ve developed to support Deans in their teaching–our Dean of Students Curriculum.

It’s built on the idea that when a Dean works with students, he or she should be teaching as much as possible- seeking to guide the thoughts and actions of students by building their knowledge and skills- even (or especially) when the topic is learning to be productive and positive in school.

Deans of Students know that some young person will struggle at some point with impulse control and call out in class repeatedly, or will make a poor decision on social media- they just don’t know which student when. If it’s true that much of the behavior Deans seek to address is predictable, we should be prepared in advance them with a curriculum of productive learning activities to help ensure the learning is substantive and enduring.

Our curriculum is comprised of 40+ lessons which were created to develop character and to help replace unproductive behaviors with better ones. The lessons explore common issues that students face in school and provide resources to help them address those behaviors through teaching.

Designed with middle school students in mind, our curriculum explores a range of topics such as peer pressure, managing anger, showing gratitude, and more. When completing our lesson on “The Power of an Apology,” for example, students read an article that highlights the benefits of apologizing when they have done something wrong. Through questioning, students take what they have learned to identify effective apologies, reflect on their own experiences with apologies, and write their own apology.

The Dean of Students Curriculum can be used to:  

  • Help students reflect on challenging situations, their actions, and learn replacement behaviors for counterproductive actions.· Help students understand how their actions impact themselves and others.
  • Help students understand how their actions impact themselves and others.
  • Proactively teach virtues and values to support student character development.
  • Develop students’ critical thinking, writing, and character development through carefully curated activities broken up by topic.

Please visit our website where you can learn more about how to pilot or purchase the curriculum:

–Brittany Hargrove

* It could be the Dean of Students… or an Assistant Principal or Pastoral Leader or whatever a school calls the person who is asked to step in when students struggle to meet community expectations or behave counter-productively.

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