Rigor and joy: SEL and academics go hand-in-hand

Demographics

McMinnville School District serves 6,800 students across 9 schools

Biggest challenge

We are a Title 1 school in rural Oregon with over 60 percent of our students experiencing poverty and our best estimate tells us that 36 percent have also experienced some sort of childhood trauma. These obstacles create barriers for our students coming to school ready to learn and thrive both academically and social emotionally. Our teaching staff was struggling with knowing how to meet both of these needs simultaneously, focusing on both SEL and academics. In our field, there is a false dichotomy that educators should focus on either SEL or academics, hence the unending pendulum swing in education. The truth is our kids need and deserve both simultaneously. We needed to foster a growth culture that fostered high expectations and support for the whole child.

Solutions

The transformational growth that we took on in our building could not have happened without growth mindset. The foundational belief that intelligence is malleable and that each child’s “true potential is unknown and unknowable.” (Dweck, 2006). We began this work by starting with the adults. We examined our own tendencies toward growth mindset messages and fixed mindset messages. We recognized that our systems often reflect past practice and can sometimes be obstacles to growth. We challenged one another to ask deep, difficult questions and foster each other’s learning as we tried new things. We sought to understand growth mindset not as a fad in education, but as ethical responsibility to understand and teach in ways that support brain development for our students.…Read More

Using a growth mindset as the foundation for SEL

Research continues to show the benefits of social-emotional learning (SEL), especially with elementary-age students. But as SEL gains ground, educators need to think about best practices for adding it to their classroom. One of those approaches includes using a growth mindset.

In “SEL and Academic Learning Catalyst: Growth Mindset,” presenters Dr. Desiree Margo, principal at Redmond Early Learning Center, and Dr. Kendra Coates, Growing Early Mindsets (GEM) author and professional learning specialist at Mindset Works, explain why a growth mindset is the strongest foundation for both SEL and academic learning. They caution, however, that both principles need to be integrated into the regular classroom and throughout school activities to achieve the best results.

Related: 10 signs you’re doing SEL right…Read More

7 programs that are transforming education

Innovative tools and strategies are transforming education, and the best educators recognize this growing trend and harness it to benefit their students.

Fuel Education’s Transformation Awards recognize schools, districts or organizations that are successfully transforming education, the way teachers teach, and how students learn. The awards highlight seven exemplary programs from Fuel Education’s partner school districts.

Each Transformation Award winner uses online courses and adaptive learning tools to meet the varying needs of their students, who represent different demographic, economic and geographic backgrounds.…Read More

10 signs you’re doing SEL right

Teachers, school counselors, and school leaders impact student social-emotional learning (SEL) to the degree that they transform each student’s mindset by empowering the self of the student.

SEL is more than simple observable changes in behavior or short-term boosts to motivation. Student SEL is the process of deep change—changing beliefs, assumptions, and paradigms of reality. For example, SEL is going from “no hope” to “hope,” from resignation to having dreams and a passion to pursue new possibilities, from anxiety and depression to inner peace and happiness.

Related: 5 ways we develop SEL in our schools…Read More

Why should schools change?

The transformation of our schools–from the outdated model that focuses on rote learning of content and short-term preparation for tests, to one of deeper learning that prepares students for success in a rapidly evolving future–is, finally, inevitable.

At a 30,000-foot level, our broad community of education stakeholders—learners, parents, practitioners, administrators, and community builders—is faced with three big questions: “Why” should schools change? “What” does that change look like? And, “how” do we make those changes?

Why should schools change?

During this new millennium of radically increased dynamism in the world around us, our basic system of education has stayed remarkably static.…Read More

6 ways to connect with ELL parents

There’s no secret formula for parent engagement. And when English isn’t their first language, the obstacles seem more daunting. Connecting with ELL parents can help educators better support students—and there are some strategies to help.

According to Rick Castaneda, a training specialist at Rosetta Stone, the key is to develop a multi-step approach that gives parents several different opportunities to connect with the school and their children’s teachers while also making sure that the parent, no matter their language, feels like a key part of the decision-making process.

In his edWebinar, “Involve Parents for Greater English Learner Success,” Castaneda discussed six key areas of parental involvement, based on the work of Johns Hopkins professor Joyce L. Epstein, PhD, and how each one helps build a stronger relationship.…Read More

How we created a comprehensive drone curriculum

As educators, we are all continuously looking for interdisciplinary learning opportunities that will provide students with the most authentic learning experiences possible. With students’ hyper-exposure to the growing applications for technology, STEAM programs are one area in which real-world applications are readily apparent to students.

Here in Salamanca, New York, as we seek to ensure our students have the necessary marketable skills for the modern economy, we’ve chosen to incorporate a drone curriculum into our STEAM programs. With the core drone skills, our students open themselves to employment opportunities in diverse sectors such as cinematography, industrial inspections, public safety, agriculture, construction, specialized sciences, and much more.

Drone education starts early on

To deliver on this goal for our students, we have developed a comprehensive drone curriculum that will introduce students to drones as early as kindergarten and allow them to become more hands-on throughout their academic career. For juniors and seniors, that experience culminates with an immersive curriculum through which they become FAA-certified drone pilots, while also imparting the core skills in data collection analysis necessary to pursue careers in this rapidly evolving workforce.…Read More

‘I teach because’: 7 educators on why they teach

Has anyone ever asked you why you teach? What did you say? Maybe you said, “I teach because I love seeing aha moments,” or, “I teach because I want to support kids who might not have support anywhere else.”

Whatever your reason, our hats are off to you. Teaching is without a doubt one of the most demanding professions today. Not only are teachers tasked with imparting knowledge to students, they’re also responsible for keeping students safe, calming anxieties, and doling out doses of comfort and love.

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week this week, we asked teachers to share with us why they teach. What motivates them? What made them want to become an educator? What keeps them in the classroom and in school?…Read More

5 edtech accelerators that are changing K-12

Five powerful edtech accelerators are influencing the skills and needs of K-12 students and educators, according to a new CoSN report released during the advocacy group’s 2019 conference.

These edtech accelerators are major disruptive shifts in the status quo that redefine the future of education and accelerate the pace of technological change. They vary in speed, speed, the report notes, with some suddenly appearing and others gradually becoming more important over several years.

The five accelerators are: learners as creators; data-driven practices; personalization; design thinking; and building the capacity of human leaders.…Read More

Can audiobooks be the great equalizer for students with learning differences?

Low reading ability is a major contributor to learning inequality in our schools.

An estimated 26 million students have learning differences, including tens of thousands of students with dyslexia, a neurological condition that affects reading and related language-based processing skills.

Unless educators can find new approaches to deliver reading instruction and personalize learning environments for these frustrated learners, many will fail.…Read More