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Cascade Matters is the blog of Cascade Educational Consultants. Cascade has extensive experience in policy development, advocacy, education reform, youth leadership, teaching and learning strategies, education collaborations and civic development. We are committed to ensuring schools create and sustain quality teaching and learning environments for all students to be successful in school and contribute to their communities as active principled citizens. Learn more about us.

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Hope, Engagement and Well-Being

A couple of weeks ago I attended a meeting co-sponsored by America’s Promise, the Association of School Administrators (AASA) and Gallup. The purpose of the meeting was to release and discuss findings of a recent Gallup poll asking young people their current sense of hope, engagement and well-being.

The results of the Gallup Student Poll indicated that 50% of youth respondents were hopeful, 50% were engaged and 63% were thriving. To quote the corresponding National Report:

"Half of students are hopeful; these students possess numerous ideas and abundant energy for the future. The other half of students are stuck or discouraged; lacking the ideas and energy they need to navigate problems and reach goals."

"Half of students are engaged; they are highly involved with and enthusiastic about school. The other half of students are either going through the motions at school or actively undermining the teaching and learning process."

"Nearly two-thirds of students are thriving; they think about their present and future life in positive terms, and they tend to be in good health and have strong social support. Just over one-third of students are struggling or suffering."

I am pleased with the fact that half of youth polled in this report are hopeful and engaged and well over half are thriving; but what about the other youth who feel discouraged, disengaged and less well? How can we structure our schools to be more hopeful, engaged and well? How can we all contribute to ensuring that all youth are hopeful, engaged and thriving?


I think part of the answer can be found in how we as adults consider the statements/questions used in the Gallup poll, for example:
· There is an adult in my life who cares about my future.
· I can think of many ways to get good grades.
· I energetically pursue my goals.
· I can find lots of ways around any problem.
· I feel safe at school.
· My teachers make me feel my schoolwork is important.
· If I miss school, an adult from school calls home to ask how I am doing.
· At this school, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
· Were you treated with respect all day yesterday?
· Did you smile or laugh a lot yesterday?
· Did you learn or do something interesting yesterday?


If we want to ensure our youth are hopeful, engaged and thriving then we need to co-create environments, relationships and strategies that at the end of the day we can answer positively that we have created these conditions for success.

Each day we can consider this list of statements/questions and ask ourselves how have we created hope, engagement and well-being for every student we interacted with today?


I think we can do a better job in our schools and our communities to create conditions of hope, engagement and well-being for everyone, after all our democracy is built on these values and our country’s future depends on our collective ability to sustain them.

For more information on the Student Poll, visit www.gallupstudentpoll.com

About the author: Terry Pickeral, president Cascade Educational Consultants has extensive experience in policy development, advocacy, education reform, youth leadership, teaching and learning strategies, education collaborations and civic development. His commitment is to ensuring schools create and sustain quality teaching and learning environments for all students to be successful in school and contribute to their communities as active principled citizens.

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