4 edtech SEL trends to follow this year

Technology has become increasingly important to every level of education, and its value to social-emotional learning, or SEL, is no exception. Just as digital tools provide educators with innovative and flexible ways to reinforce learning in core academic subjects, they can be used to more effectively teach the social-emotional and life skills that students need to thrive in the classroom and beyond.

An essential part of my role as vice president of product for Committee for Children, an industry leader in SEL, is to keep a close eye on trends in education technology. After spending more than 25 years in edtech, I know how crucial it is for educators to understand how to leverage technology to support SEL in practical, meaningful ways.

Here are four of the latest SEL edtech trends that districts and schools can use this year to support the social-emotional well-being of students and staff, enhance students’ engagement with SEL content, and improve family communications.…Read More

How computer science education bridges the digital divide

Amid the havoc that the pandemic wreaked on our lives, there were important lessons to be learned. It proved that people skilled with technology could navigate and succeed, and that many of the potential problems of the future could be solved by technology.

Many institutions and people who embraced technology survived–and in some cases, thrived.  But for those without digital skills or access to a computer and an internet connection, it was a very different story.

During the pandemic, the term ‘homework gap’ was used to describe children without reliable or any access to the internet and appropriate digital devices and who were unable to complete their assignments. At the beginning of the pandemic, an estimated 15 million public school students in the US lacked the connectivity needed for online learning. This gap was especially pronounced in low-income, Black, and Hispanic households. As nearly every school adopted some form of online learning, students without computers and connectivity suffered. Schools worked hard to address this situation, but for others, they could only watch their students struggle and fall behind.…Read More

How to provide effective and engaging virtual therapy for kids

As was the case for so many other therapists working with children and families, March 2020 felt overwhelming in our center for child and family therapy. From seeing clients in-person all day in our client-centered, carefully designed therapy rooms equipped with all the therapeutic tools that a child therapist might need to engage a child in the hard work of therapy, we scrambled to figure out a way to transfer our clinical tools to the virtual realm. The transition from using toys, games, animal assisted therapy, art, music, movement, and parent-child attunement enhancing interventions to connecting through a digital screen seemed at times to be an impossible mission.

The transition was especially challenging for our very young clients and those who appeared to have significant struggles with the adjustment to virtual education. Even after weeks of creating and identifying multiple virtual tools that enabled us to engage most of our clients in expressive ways to process their experiences and share their internal worlds with us, we consistently received skeptical messages from parents who were certain that their child would not be able to effectively use a virtual platform for their therapy work.

We were convinced that we would be eager to return to our carefully designed, in-person therapy rooms as soon as we possibly could safely do so. Little did we know that we would not only find the virtual therapeutic tools to be highly effective, even in some of our most challenging and complex cases, but we would also discover that there are many unexpected and valuable therapeutic benefits that come with this virtual approach to providing child and family mental health therapy services. …Read More

How robotic gamification helped my elementary students love STEM

Coding is a necessary skill in today’s world, but it is relatively challenging to master, especially for kids. Its complexity is not necessarily because it is incomprehensible, but because it is a new concept for most students. This is especially the case for students in inner-city schools where technology is inevitably scarce due to systemic factors beyond the students’ control.

With numerous programming languages available, it can take time to pick a starting point. Educators have found a solution to this problem: gamification. Platforms like CoderZ offer virtual programming services where children can learn code through games. These games make learning code both fun and engaging for kids.

Through the CoderZ Robotics curriculum, kids learn to create, manage, and communicate with cyber robots in a virtual setting by inputting code. Block code is used because it is easier for children to understand and execute instead of complex text-based code. Learning is more accessible because virtual robots do not require hardware, space, or other associated costs.…Read More

Virtual school nurses can play a pivotal role in schools

Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes requires extremely careful management.  The process of counting carbs, monitoring blood sugar, and injecting insulin throughout the day can be complex and confusing.  As difficult as this is for adults, it can be exponentially harder for children – especially during the school day.

While the need is there – a recent CDC report details how both Type I and Type II diabetes are on the rise in youth populations – not every school has access to a qualified nurse on premises to assist children with their routine diabetes care.  In fact, only 39 percent of schools in the US employ a full-time school nurse and just 35 percent employ a part-time school nurse.  In rural areas, or communities struggling with healthcare staffing shortages due to the COVID-19 pandemic, those numbers can be much lower.

As school districts search for a viable solution to this worrying gap in care for young students, they can find an opportunity in telemedicine.…Read More

What SEL teaches us about safety

According to a Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) study, the number of children aged 3 to 17 diagnosed with anxiety increased by 29 percent between 2016 and 2020, while those diagnosed with depression increased by 27 percent.

The situation worsened with the pandemic. And now, stressed students are hurting others and themselves.

There’s a dire need for safety in schools and other educational institutions — it’s time for strategies that help create safe learning environments.…Read More

Parents are turning to schools for student mental health

School counselors and social workers, teachers, and administrators have always been integral to a parent’s support network. This is particularly true for children who struggle in class and have trouble accessing their curriculum.  Collaborative communication between a school and parents is critical for ensuring positive student outcomes.

Although clearly an issue before the pandemic, the pandemic has increased our collective awareness of children’s mental health issues and schools’ role in addressing those challenges. At the height of the pandemic, we were aware of the toll that the effects of the pandemic were taking on the nation’s school children, but we were functioning in a survival mode. As we emerge from this survival mode, it is clear that our school-age children are in crisis.

According to an October 30, 2022, Wall Street Journal article, “A mental-health crisis among children and teens that had been brewing for years worsened as routines were disrupted in the pandemic and many kids faced isolation and loss.”…Read More

Board of Education President Joyce S. Wilkerson Receives The Benjamin Elijah Mays Lifetime Achievement Award

PHILADELPHIA – Board of Education President Joyce S. Wilkerson received the Benjamin Elijah Mays Lifetime Achievement Award today for her longstanding commitment to the educational needs of urban school children. The Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE) presents this award each year to recognize current or former school board members who have made a difference for the students they serve. 

During her six-year tenure with the School District, Ms. Wilkerson guided the School District’s transition from the state-controlled School Reform Commission to the locally controlled Board of Education in 2018. The Board then oversaw the transformation of a District in fiscal and academic distress to one that improved educational outcomes for students, while it developed strong financial management, attaining an investment grade rating from Moody’s Investor Services for the first time since 1977.

Under Ms. Wilkerson’s leadership, the Board has developed partnerships that have generated additional support for students and has made investments to advance the Board’s strategic plan, known as Goals & Guardrails. In 2019, Ms. Wilkerson led the Board’s work to create and implement Goals & Guardrails, a plan designed to increase student achievement while providing the necessary conditions that support learning. …Read More

4 ways districts can better advocate for students

Public education remains the nation’s great equalizer, giving every child the best chance for success in life. A chance that can turn into an assurance if school districts provide a solid foundation at every step in a student’s path toward graduation and beyond. Unfortunately, too many children right now are standing on shaky ground.

As the superintendent of Meriden Public Schools (MPS) in Meriden, Conn., I can tell you not one of our 8,500 children emerged from the pandemic completely unscathed. The academic and emotional fallout took its toll on everyone. However, it’s been especially hard on students who need extra support, including English learners, students in special education programs, and those who have been disenfranchised from or disengaged with education in general.

Over the years, MPS has developed strategies to help our administrators, teachers, and staff become stronger advocates for their students and to more effectively engage community partners and families. Our goal is to ensure education works for every child, regardless of their circumstances.…Read More

5 ways to prep students for online learning success

Students who attend online school today range from homeschoolers, to those seeking an alternative to in-person public schools, to learners who want to mix virtual schooling with in-person learning. Also, some districts have decided to keep an online option open for students who choose that method.

And while numerous parents and students have chosen to make online learning part of their education, the transition can be challenging. As someone who’s been involved with online schools for more than eight years, here are five common areas of concern and tips for how teachers and parents can navigate these challenges successfully.

Organization and Scheduling are Vital…Read More