Don’t wait to secure your endpoints from cyberattacks

As we enter a new school year, among the myriad things that instructors and administrators need to be concerned about, ransomware remains high on the list. According to the K-12 Security Information Exchange, there were 166 publicly disclosed cyber incidents affecting 162 school districts across 38 states during the 2021 calendar year.

The rise of remote learning and the use of more devices comes with a price – more endpoints mean more opportunities for potential exploitation. This isn’t a new refrain, but we continue to see challenges facing endpoint security. Cyberattacks against schools can result in closures, not to mention high and unbudgeted remediation and recovery costs.

School districts are already grappling with one of the hardest missions out there – educating our youth – and having to worry about a potential data breach can’t take away from this. Fortunately, in this situation, knowledge is power. Understanding the potential risks that your endpoints face is key to knowing what needs to happen to mitigate these risks and keep your information and systems safe.…Read More

5 ways to support educator well-being this school year

Educators, I see you. I know it’s been a rough couple of years.

From teaching through a global pandemic to adjusting in real time to teacher shortages and policy changes, from worrying about school safety to trying to manage more disruptive behavior in your classroom, this past school year alone has presented huge challenges.

As humans, we are neurobiologically wired for connection – it’s in our DNA. And, as educators, you are wired to help support the students (and fellow educators) you serve – it’s why you entered this profession to begin with. However, due to all of the external (and internal) pressures, you and so many other educators are likely feeling burned out, exhausted, and overwhelmed.…Read More

The 3 pillars of meaningful learning

We have a saying where I work at the Van Andel Institute for Education: “We believe learning should be memorable, meaningful, and fun!” It’s a quote that I earnestly believe in, but I also recognize the challenges that come with this lofty goal. The number of responsibilities teachers must deal with is endless, and the world of education is only growing more uncertain.

Creating lessons which fully engage our students can sometimes feel like an added burden. After all, isn’t it their responsibility to pay attention, learn, and apply the knowledge we give them?

Well, yes and no. Certainly our students must develop their own sense of accountability, but educators need to remember that our pupils are not empty vessels waiting to be filled. Our students are people with goals, dreams, concerns, and interests. Of course they want the content we teach to be meaningful. If we’re to respect this fact, while also delivering the best education that we can, then we need to make relevance, experience, and impact the core pillars of our lesson creation.…Read More

How I make online teaching work as a high school educator

I have been teaching at traditional and charter schools for the past 18 years, and I remain encouraged by the determination of the students I serve, even when faced with the challenges we’ve seen over the past several years due to the pandemic.

It’s a humbling experience to be a part of their academic journey, knowing that in some way I played a role in their success. To provide positive and meaningful experiences for students makes me feel honored to be an educator.

Like many of my peers, however, the onset of COVID-19 showed me it was time to make changes in my career and put my needs first after nearly 20 years in the profession. I’ve always had a passion for traveling, exploring other cultures, and learning new things—part of the reason why I became a teacher.…Read More

I’m a teacher, but I was also “that student”

This fall, I will return to the classroom for my second year teaching English at Philadelphia’s Excel Academy South, an accelerated high school experience for students seeking a smaller, more personal setting, intensely focused on elevating social skills, emotional wellness, and academic success. 

My colleagues and I are committed to helping students succeed by developing meaningful relationships with each of them, therefore understanding their individual needs, challenges, and strengths. When students feel safe and valued, they become empowered to take charge of their education and future. They begin to fulfill their learning potential. 

It was during my interview with the director and two other administrators at Excel Academy South that I recognized something deeply familiar in so many of their students: It was my younger self. …Read More

Presence Introduces New Therapy Platform to Enrich the Clinician Experience

NEW YORK – Presence, the leading provider of online therapy solutions for children with diverse needs, launches Kanga, a modern therapy platform for clinicians who serve children. Special education caseloads in schools have continued to rise, increasing backlogs, and driving clinician burnout. Presence is expanding the tools available to clinicians in schools, agencies, and independent practices. The technology company has developed a robust, clinician-designed online therapy platform for their own network of teletherapy providers, and made a version of it available to schools during the pandemic.

“Kanga was designed to respond to the challenges and opportunities our clinicians have experienced in their own practice,” said Kate Eberle Walker, CEO of Presence. “The resulting platform is a combination of their expertise and 13 years of our own data on how special education providers and students engage in therapy and evaluations.”

Presence is offering a free version of the platform for clinicians interested in exploring how they can incorporate technology into their therapy planning, documentation, and delivery. The free version gives access to a rich library of resources and caseload management features, including tools for documenting and tracking session notes and student profiles. It also allows them to conduct up to eight 30-minute teletherapy sessions a month. Individual clinicians can sign up for the free version of Kanga through Presence’s website.…Read More

4 Practices for Innovative School Leaders

If your school or district is anything like many others across the country, it has undergone transformational changes at a rapid (perhaps even dizzying) pace over the past two years. The challenges you continue to face demand that you influence more change, driven by creative problem solving and a bit of risk.

While innovation takes a unique form in every school, I’ve drawn upon my experience collaborating with innovative thinkers across the PreK-12 landscape to gather a few key practices that I believe will be critical this year. Consider how these changes can impact your daily work and influence outcomes for the teachers and learners you serve:

Reframe your understanding of personalized learning.…Read More

How analytics can identify student mental health challenges

As we get closer to the upcoming school year, it’s important to think about how to address student mental health. The pandemic has been difficult for everyone, but it has had an especially significant impact on our youth, who were already experiencing record high levels of poor mental health: The CDC reports that “More than one in three high school students had experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness in 2019, a 40 percent increase since 2009.”

After having their lives upended by COVID-19, students are finally getting back into the routine of things, but their mental health should still be a major concern, as poor mental health can lead to trouble performing well in school, social isolation, and even self-harm or death.

In 2019, the CDC also reported that one in six youths had made a suicide plan within the last year, showing just how important it is to address this problem.…Read More