Ready, set, safe: Communication and technology for school safety

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With school-associated violence at a record high, there is an urgent responsibility for school leaders to protect the safety of students, teachers, and staff. As the 2023 – 2024 academic year concludes this spring, school leaders will have the opportunity to review safety protocols and adopt new tools to foster a safe and secure learning environment for years to come. By prioritizing critical components like best-of-breed communication technology, school leaders can ensure their integrated safety plan will help minimize emergencies and significantly contribute to the academic growth and wellbeing of students and staff.

Create an emergency communication plan for proactive safety …Read More

Navigating cultural diversity in American education

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The tapestry of America’s history is arguably woven with threads of multiculturalism, reflecting a nation that has embraced diversity since its inception. In many ways, the history of multicultural education runs parallel with the history of the United States, because we have been an ostensibly multicultural nation from the very beginning.

Within the educational landscape, the concept of Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT) has emerged as a multifaceted approach that aims to promote equitable excellence and validate the diverse experiences of students. CRT refers to a student-centered approach that seeks to validate and affirm students’ diverse experiences and contributions. By creating bridges between students’ knowledge and classroom content, educators who employ CRT practices aim to affirm identities and values. Furthermore, educators who employ CRT extend learning beyond the classroom, thereby fostering community engagement and service learning to enhance students’ critical consciousness regarding social justice and racial inequalities.…Read More

5 things to know about high-dosage tutoring

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The benefits of high-dosage tutoring can’t be ignored. Research shows that tutoring is one of the most effective ways to increase academic achievement, including among students from lower socio-economic households–one of the groups disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

High-dosage tutoring is a crucial strategy for student advancement regardless of a student’s abilities or where they may struggle academically.…Read More

Educational leaders must leverage collaboration for success

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) calculated global economic output loss will total $28 trillion dollars between 2020 and 2025 as the result of the COVID-19 virus that impacted businesses and education. Our schools are still pivoting to serve students and families who are figuring out life in the space of no longer and not yet.

The pandemic has changed us all.…Read More

Young students less prepared for grade-level reading, math

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Children who were in early childhood learning programs during the pandemic are struggling to keep up with grade-level learning in math and English, according to School Readiness for Young Students Post-Pandemic, a new report from Curriculum Associates that examines nationwide data quantifying the latent academic impact of disrupted access to early childhood care and education for the nation’s youngest learners.

This report is one of the first to gather and analyze nationally representative data from more than five million Grades K–2 students, thanks to their i-Ready® Diagnostic for Reading and for Mathematics.…Read More

Occupational therapy is the antidote for pandemic skill loss

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Over three years since the pandemic’s onset, students’ social, emotional, and academic development have clearly suffered. Research shows that the average student lost approximately one-third of a school year to the pandemic, leading to academic setbacks and missed opportunities for building skills fostered in school settings, such as learning to form routines and study habits, solve problems, and follow directions.

As students suffer broadly from these gaps in development, schools across the country need creative solutions to provide all students with extra support during this challenging time.…Read More

Advancing educational equity with UDL and generative AI

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As we all struggle down the path toward true educational inclusion, we are confronted with four pillars of equity as described by Rochelle Guiterize: Access, Success, Power and Identity.

Educators with a mind towards equity typically excel at access. Opening doors to all students is an obvious move. However, we must continually push systems so that all students are able to be successful in spaces where they have ownership and feel a sense of belonging (identity). Otherwise, equity and inclusion are still just a dream. …Read More

5 critical ingredients in a school safety plan

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Teacher training programs often introduce aspiring educators to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, an eight-decade-old principle that reminds teachers that learning is significantly more difficult when other needs are not accounted for.

Physiological needs such as air, water, and food are most important; however, safety, including personal security, follows closely as a foundational requirement. After years of devastating and heart-breaking incidents of school violence, school safety sentiment has plummeted.…Read More

Prioritizing student safety with enhanced first responder and cellular communication coverage

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For any school, keeping students, faculty, and staff safe is a top priority. Many school leaders will therefore be shocked to learn that 52 percent of U.S. schools include areas that fail to meet current building code requirements for minimum indoor radio signal strength for police and fire department communications.

The implications are clear. In an emergency, when timely and effective communications are vital, first responders may have trouble connecting via their smartphones, hand-held radios, or other devices. This can adversely affect their ability to respond to an emergency and, in worst-case scenarios, put lives at risk.…Read More

What a 4-day school week might mean for your district

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West of the Mississippi, a new approach to seat time is catching on. Roughly 1,000 different schools have transitioned to a four-day school week (researchers abbreviate this as a 4dsw), which amounts to a sixfold increase since 2000. Twenty-five percent of schools in Missouri have implemented a 4dsw in their districts.

Schools in the American West and Southwest have led the way in trying this trend. There are a handful of reasons for this, but many deal with the geography of the school district. Rural schools often see different challenges than their urban counterparts. Transportation, extracurriculars, and family obligations can keep students out of school for half a day for something as quick as an orthodontist appointment once travel time is factored in.

Consolidating required seat time into four days does lengthen the four days spent in school, but the fifth day—which often is a Friday or a Monday, resulting in a three-day weekend—is completely free of school obligations. Some schools still elect to provide a meal for multiple reasons, including funding preservation and food insecurity. Teachers who travel to the district save on commute costs and consider the fifth day a perk of employment. One district switched and saw four times2 as many teacher applications.

Not every school site in a district has to adhere to the 4dsw—one prime example includes pre-kindergarten classes, which meet on different schedules than their older peers. But evidence is mounting that a 4dsw could help attract and retain teachers, manage scheduling for rural districts, and impact students’ sleep. Let’s weigh the pros and cons of a 4dsw.

The cons of 4dsw…Read More

The power of AI in education: Enhancing instructional coaching for student success

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Last fall, ChatGPT, an AI-powered language model, became the subject of widespread discussion, from lighthearted memes about robots taking over to genuine confusion about the capabilities and implications of AI. While we have come to understand this technology better, there still remains hesitancy and caution surrounding AI and its integration into education. A prime example was the New York City School System, which had prohibited students and teachers from accessing ChatGPT’s website on school computers.

This hesitation is understandable, as any new technology brings about both excitement and trepidation. However, it is essential for educators and instructional coaches to embrace emerging technologies like AI, as doing otherwise would mean doing our students a disservice. By integrating AI into the classroom, we have the opportunity to enhance teaching practices, coaching conversations, and ultimately support student success in innovative and meaningful ways.…Read More

How video coaching helps us support teacher growth and retention

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At the Van Winkle Early Childhood Center within Jackson Public School District in Mississippi, we enroll students for one year to prepare them for kindergarten. Family engagement is critical to a student’s success throughout their academic career, so we also help prepare families to support their children every step of the way.

We believe that successful mentoring and instructional coaching sustains teachers, especially new ones, throughout the year and improves their ability to build strong relationships with students and families. To ensure that our mentoring and coaching is intentional, focused, and fits into everyone’s tight schedules, we recently began using video. Here’s how it works.…Read More