Creating classroom community in a digital space

One of my favorite parts of being an educator is the sense of community that is created with each new class of students. Fostering that feeling in person has its challenges of course, but is a bit easier to administer and coach when you’re face to face. When asked to build that same sense of community with my students through a computer screen as we went into a distance learning mode, my brain started to misfire. How am I going to do that? Are the students going to be engaged in their learning? Will they be able to feel that sense of belonging in a virtual classroom setting? So, after a few days of crying and worrying, I accepted this new challenge.

My teaching and tech skills were going to be put to the ultimate test.

As I’m reflecting on this past school year, I think it’s the strongest bond I’ve ever built with a group of students, thanks in part to technology and the community building that had to initially happen in our virtual classroom. My goal for this article is to share strategies and tips that worked well and helped me nurture and grow that strong teacher to student relationship through a screen, despite the collective challenges we faced.…Read More

Building classroom community in a digital space

One of my favorite parts of being an educator is the sense of community that is created with each new class of students. Fostering that feeling in person has its challenges of course, but is a bit easier to administer and coach when you’re face to face. When asked to build that same sense of community with my students through a computer screen as we went into a distance learning mode, my brain started to misfire. How am I going to do that? Are the students going to be engaged in their learning? Will they be able to feel that sense of belonging in a virtual classroom setting? So, after a few days of crying and worrying, I accepted this new challenge.

My teaching and tech skills were going to be put to the ultimate test.

As I’m reflecting on this past school year, I think it’s the strongest bond I’ve ever built with a group of students, thanks in part to technology and the community building that had to initially happen in our virtual classroom. My goal for this article is to share strategies and tips that worked well and helped me nurture and grow that strong teacher to student relationship through a screen, despite the collective challenges we faced.…Read More

How to help children develop executive functioning skills

Math. Social studies. Science. There’s no shortage of important topics the U.S. education system imparts on our youth. And yet, there is a set of skills that’s not given enough attention in the classroom: Executive functioning. 

Executive functioning is the management system of the brain it refers to how well students pay attention, organize and prioritize, stay focused on tasks through completion, regulate their emotions, and keep track of the things they are doing. While executive functioning is starting to gain some deserved attention in the classroom, parents can have a huge impact on the growth of these skills for their children.

In this piece, we’ll look at why executive functioning has been historically overlooked in our education system and how parents can help their children learn these skills. …Read More

11 resources to avoid the summer slide

The summer slide, summer brain drain, summer learning loss–whatever you call it, it’s of even more concern to parents and educators with COVID thrown in the mix.

While many districts resumed hybrid or full in-person learning during the 2020-2021 school year, many educators and experts are still concerned about learning gaps and learning loss.

It’s fair to say students have more than earned their impending summer breaks. Still, it’s not a bad idea to encourage students to keep reading and to give their brains a little exercise here and there.…Read More

8 awesome podcasts for kids, families, and teachers

As podcasts skyrocket in popularity, news buffs and true crime addicts shouldn’t have all the fun. There are a growing number of podcasts for kids, covering topics from SEL and history to book clubs and brain challenges.

Below, we’ve collected a handful of fun and engaging podcasts for kids. You might be inspired to incorporate them into your virtual, hybrid, or in-person classroom when appropriate.

1. Ooh! You’re in Trouble: Ooh! You’re in Trouble is a podcast for tweens, parents, and teachers about the rules we broke growing up…and what those moments teach kids about making smart decisions when grownups aren’t around. Each episode features young people sharing stories of a moment they broke the rules growing up. The series explores why kids defy rules and what we can learn from it. …Read More

How positive psychology reduces stress and boosts reading comprehension

Learning to read is a higher brain function. Reading comprehension activates the cerebral cortex of a child’s brain. This part of the brain is important for complex cognitive tasks, but it’s also the part of the brain that’s the most sensitive to the harmful effects of stress.

Because stress impairs both learning and memory, teachers can improve reading comprehension and enhance classroom learning by reducing student stress through positive psychology.

The psychology of happiness and learning…Read More

4 positive psychology tactics to help your brain manage stress

If you’re feeling overwhelmed today, you’re not alone. Teachers across America are struggling with unprecedented levels of mental stress. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence conducted a national survey of more than 5,000 U.S. teachers.

When asked to describe their mental health and stress levels, the five most common terms that educators used were “sad,” “overwhelmed,” “anxious,” “fearful,” and “worried.” Thankfully, positive psychology can help you to build your resilience to stress, prevent burnout, improve your overall well-being, and lead to better outcomes in your classroom.

Common sources of mental stress…Read More

High Prevalence of Mental Health Risk Amid COVID Pandemic Taking a Serious Toll on U.S. Students’ Cognition

Neuroscientific research conducted by Total Brain and the Center for Adolescent Research and Education shows students’  focus, planning, memory and resilience scores fall well below standard average

The COVID pandemic is having a dramatic impact on U.S. students’ mental health which, in turn, is affecting precious cognitive capacities like memory, focus and planning.  According to a neuroscientific study conducted by Total Brain and the Center for Adolescent Research and Education (CARE):

  • 48% of high school and college students are at risk of general anxiety
  • 45% are at risk of social anxiety
  • 39% are at risk of PTSD
  • Risk of common mental health conditions is 19% to 41% higher for females than males

Deteriorating mental health is usually linked with a decline in cognitive capacities. Expressed in percentile ranking, the standard average for any capacity is the 50th percentile ranking. However, the average percentile rank for students in this study fell well below the standard average:…Read More

10 team-building activities for distance learning

As a teacher, team building is something that comes naturally. We do it to break the ice at the beginning of the year, to build a community in our classroom, and as a brain break when our kids (or the teachers) need a break.

Now that we are all learning and teaching from home, building a community and connecting with our kids is a little harder with distance learning factored in.

Related content: Student mental health goes virtual during a pandemic…Read More

4 ways educators can combat rural brain drain

[Editor’s note: Today’s stories take a two-pronged look at rural brain drain. This story examines the issue from an educator’s perspective. Look at the issue from the tech community’s perspective here.]

More than 30 years ago, the Department of Justice researched and concluded that stronger families and communities create successful school environments. Fast forward to the present day, the importance of that link between the community and school is still vital for student success. There’s a give and take relationship with the education system and its community, meaning higher standards and stronger school systems encourage the community outside of the school to succeed as well.

With this in mind, a common problem in rural area schools is bridging that gap between school books and real-world experiences – particularly when it comes to STEM. With STEM fields expanding, it’s important to show students in rural communities how they can learn to be innovators and problem solvers for this generation.…Read More