How to ensure clear communication with your paraprofessionals

As back-to-school commences this fall, in addition to the students and teachers returning to school buildings, somewhere between 160,000 and 250,000–or more–folks will be joining those students and teachers. Known by a variety of titles, from paraeducator and paraprofessional, to aid, to assistant teacher, these educational support personnel have the least training of people working in schools. Add the fact that most paraprofessionals are assigned to work with students with the most significant needs, and one can see why these positions are difficult to fill and have generally high turnover rates.

There are a couple of things that can be done to better assist paraprofessionals in their roles within schools. The first is to ensure more effective communication between teachers and the paraprofessionals who work with the same students and support them in the classrooms.

Building administrators should make sure that teachers provide clear and direct guidance for paraprofessionals at the beginning of each term. Often, paraprofessionals might be new to education and might not have much time to prepare for their assignment. One effective method is to have teachers who will work with paraprofessionals complete a short checklist explaining the items they want the paraprofessional to focus on and what they would prefer is left to the teacher. Building administrators then need to facilitate conversations between the teacher and paraprofessionals so expectations are clear. Such a practice can help eliminate problems before they arise by ensuing clear expectations are set for each paraprofessional.…Read More

AtomicMind Launches College Admissions Technology Platform for a Personalized and Comprehensive College Application Experience

NEW YORKAtomicMind, an education technology company that offers families a boutique coaching experience in the increasingly competitive college admissions landscape, today announced the launch of a unique technology platform. The new offering provides a comprehensive and personalized college application experience by combining hands-on expert guidance from dedicated advisors with robust virtual task management, communication and feedback tools.

The platform was designed by MIT and Harvard graduates using best practices identified over the course of their 40+ years of combined experience helping students get into top colleges. It gives college applicants the benefits of enhanced feedback and collaboration with a team of experts including strategists, writing coaches and former admissions staff members from elite colleges such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Brown, MIT and Stanford. The AtomicMind platform addresses every aspect of the admissions process, from crafting compelling essays to mastering interviews to refining activity and college lists. The technology includes tools for keeping track of important deadlines and documents, while offering applicants key insights into what each college admissions committee is looking for. With the platform, a greater number of students will have access to the best resources regardless of where they live.

“The new AtomicMind platform offers families access to the tools and experts needed to navigate the increasingly high standards of the elite college admissions process,” said Leelila Strogov, the founder and CEO of AtomicMind. “The platform aims to maximize college acceptance rates by helping students more effectively build college lists, create tailored applications and stay organized. It also provides parents with an opportunity to monitor the progress of their student’s college applications. This spares busy applicants the extra stress of having to provide updates to their parents or the feeling that they are being interrogated.”…Read More

ParentSquare Partners with MyVRSpot to Enhance Video Messaging to K-12 School-Home Engagement Platform

SANTA BARBARA, CALIF. Aug. 10, 2022—In a 2022 national survey about the future of school-home communications, school and district leaders said they would like to add more videos to improve communication with families. To meet this need, ParentSquare has partnered with MyVRSpot, a video and digital media management service, to extend its video messaging capabilities to the ParentSquare school-home engagement platform for K-12.

With this new partnership, K-12 educators from the district office to the classroom teacher can seamlessly record and share video messages using ParentSquare and MyVRSpot to engage families with their communications. Teachers can also easily create and share lessons using the built-in recorder tools in MyVRSpot and then add the videos to the posts they create in ParentSquare – giving teachers and students the tools they need to teach and be future-ready citizens.

“Video provides a powerful tool to help districts and schools deepen their relationships with students’ families,” ParentSquare Chief Strategy Officer Dr. Chad A. Stevens said. “The partnership between ParentSquare and MyVRSpot is a direct response to feedback from our customers who expressed a desire to add video to their future communications plans. This new integration provides flexibility for schools to create and share video messages with families and shows ParentSquare’s ongoing commitment of creating the most robust parent relationship platform through customer-centric partnerships.”…Read More

4 tips to bring the real world into your classroom

Too often, the focus of education is not the actual use of knowledge and material but rather a memorize and repeat model.

It is an archaic formula that stems from a time when students were required to simply sit and listen–and it is poor preparation for the modern world. Today’s students need to be exposed to working environments that foster collaboration, communication, and community. Higher education and the workforce do this well. However, schools and teachers need to foster that same collaboration in K-12 education to better prepare students for their futures.

One way to do this is for educators to incorporate real-world examples into their teaching. Real-world examples bring something more tangible, impactful, and real to the curriculum, and students become more interested and engaged when they see how their lessons apply to their daily lives. They also promote a more critical and holistic way of thinking. After all, life is often more complex than what is presented in the classroom.…Read More

Why teach digital writing to students in 2022?

The internet has changed writing forever.

Have you ever thought of your students alongside Hemingway, Shakespeare, and other well-known writers? They are actually: All their messages, blogs, and social media posts go online today, together with novels, poems, or stories of professional writers.

Now they write more than speak. Online communication calls the shots, and Gen Z doesn’t perceive informative writing as we did 20 or 30 years ago.…Read More

Mental health tops education leaders’ post-pandemic priorities

Education leaders are beginning to move on from COVID-related safety measures, and are instead focusing on managing mental health and violence on campus, according to a new report from Rave Mobile Safety.

Rave’s report,  2022 Crisis Communication and Safety in Education Survey, surveyed more than 400 K-12 employees and more than 380 higher education staffers.

The past two years of COVID-19 restrictions have been a challenging time for students, staff, faculty and parents/guardians. Campus leaders are concerned about how the lingering effects of the pandemic will impact school communities going forward, especially if the right resources and safety measures are not put in place.…Read More

How our district established a unified communication platform

With 3,300 students across three different schools, our district was using a variety of diverse applications for school-to-home communications. They all handled separate aspects of our teacher-parent communications, but they weren’t cohesive.

We started looking for a new solution in 2019 that would consolidate the multiple, disparate tools into one platform and then quickly kicked that effort into high gear at the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

After speaking with other districts about their experiences using school-home communication platforms, and taking our own technology director’s recommendation to heart, we decided to implement ParentSquare. We put together a core group of people that would be using the new communications technology we adopted in order to assess how well it would work for their teams and respective buildings.…Read More

How George School Uses Location Driven Digital Signage to Improve Communication

George School is a 128-year-old Quaker coeducational boarding and day school in Pennsylvania. It’s home to 540 students representing 37 countries and 18 states. Well known for academic excellence, George Schools has a 95% IB Diploma completion rate, one of the world’s highest. Michael Hodgin is the Director of Technology at George School and has been with the school since 2000. Before George School, Michael worked as the Director of Technology at a school in Maryland and was a mathematics teacher.

Digital signage has always been compelling to Michael, and he first got into it almost ten years ago. Michael started by researching paid and free solutions for George School. Unfortunately, Michael’s research found that most paid digital signage solutions were too expensive, and the free solutions were too complicated to set up and manage. Then, in 2014 a peer-recommended Rise Vision to Michael. The timing
was perfect as George School had a new athletic center that needed signage. Michael tried out Rise Vision and was impressed by the low cost and ease of use. Michael got funding and started the process to get their digital signage up and running.

Location Driven Communication…Read More

New ParentSquare Guide Provides Best Practices to Help K-12 Educators Engage With the Hardest-to-Reach Families

Santa Barbara, CA — Feb. 18, 2021 — The role of effective communication has never been more critical, but districts and schools are facing a gamut of challenges in engaging all parents and guardians — especially the hardest-to-reach families. To help educators bridge the communications gap between school and home, ParentSquare, the award-winning unified school-home communications platform for K-12, has created a free best practice guide.

Titled “ Reaching the Last 10%: Engaging the Hardest-to Reach Families,” the 13-page guide provides practical recommendations to address five common barriers to effective communication. Additionally, readers can also access a companion infographic, “5 Barriers to Engagement Through Communications,” which provides supporting data points behind the five situations that can have a significant impact on family engagement.

“Our collective years of experience with schools and districts across the country helped us identify the challenges that we discuss throughout the guide,” said Anupama Vaid, Founder & President of ParentSquare. “It’s through that experience that we were able to observe and devise strategies to help educators overcome some of those obstacles.”…Read More

5 tips to increase parent engagement

Parent-school relationships have always been a vital part of student success, but the importance of establishing and maintaining meaningful parent engagement was emphasized by the pandemic.

When schools moved to remote instruction, communication between parents and educators soared. Teachers and administrators worked with students’ families to try to establish stability and continuity. Priorities such as setting up remote learning structures, developing a distance curriculum, and offering social and emotional support required increased collaboration with home. 

Parents have become used to increased information and communication from schools. …Read More