4 tips to build a strong classroom culture this year

The past two years have been immensely difficult for our nation’s students and teachers. In the wake of the isolation and trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health and behavioral challenges are on the rise as students continue to process unprecedented amounts of stress, anxiety, and grief. The decline in child and adolescent mental health has been so great that the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Children’s Hospital Association have declared it a national emergency.

These mental health issues have translated into increased disengagement, conflict, and bullying — and as a result, disciplinary action — in school classrooms and hallways across the country. 

As a Dean of Culture at a public school in Queens, New York, until recently, I saw these challenges first-hand. I also know that traditional discipline methods fail to address the root cause of behavioral issues. Many forms of disciplinary action are doing more harm than good. This is especially true when research shows that Black students are disciplined far more than White students for the same offenses, perpetuating and sustaining cycles of inequity in our schools. …Read More

Education’s Great Resignation

Just outside of Des Moines, Iowa, an opening for a sixth-grade teaching job sits vacant… with zero applicants.

An hour northwest of Chicago, a shortage of bus drivers, special education teachers, counselors, and paraprofessionals is forcing teachers to reexamine their workload and look outside of the profession.

Public concerns around books, curricula, and learning platforms, combined with debate over masks and vaccines, have compelled college students who intended to major in education to choose a different career path.…Read More

5 tips for a positive back-to-school experience

Heading back to school can be an exciting yet challenging time for students, teachers, and parents alike. While many school systems are returning to full in-person learning, some students are taking advantage of virtual or hybrid learning models their school may offer.

Hybrid learning serves as a great option for students–however, in the early days of pandemic virtual learning, teachers noticed the need for stronger tools and resources in order for them to create the best possible learning experience.

With the hybrid learning model here to stay, many teachers are continuing to struggle with keeping their students engaged, while some learners find it difficult to stay motivated and pay attention to instruction.…Read More

4 ways to tackle IT workforce shortages

The Great Resignation. The War for Talent. The K-12 Staffing Crisis.

Whatever you call it, K-12 school districts have a retention problem and it’s not unique to teaching staff – superintendents, principals, nurses, bus drivers, paraprofessionals, and others are departing in droves.

Between the pandemic’s disruption on student learning, overloaded schedules, and increased workloads, staff are burned out, frustrated, and leaving for enterprise roles or retiring.…Read More

3 simple things you can do to start an esports program

Esports is a hot topic in higher education, from recruiting esports athletes, to helping to prepare the future workforce for a multitude of jobs in this more than $1 billion industry. Esports has pretty much exploded on college campuses in the last 10 years–and for good reason. According to Insider Intelligence, it is estimated there will be more than 29 million monthly esports viewers in the U.S. this year. With this amazing growth at the college level, it is bound to trickle down into K-12 education.

For higher education institutions, there have been many benefits of creating successful esports programs. It’s a great way to recruit students, increase engagement, and showcase potential career opportunities. It’s also a great way to connect students who may not have had any interest in other extracurricular activities on campus.

As more K-12 schools and districts start to consider esports, there is often the question of how best to bring it to their students–especially if they don’t have the budget or resources to create an arena like the ones seen on TV.…Read More

10 back-to-school cybersecurity essentials

Summer is over and schools are back in session across the country. If you missed the chance to prepare and test your cybersecurity protocols while students were living their best lives on summer break, there are actions you must take at the start of the school year to get your programs in shape.

Teachers and administrators are ready to kick off a great year of learning, but must match that same preparedness to ensure their cybersecurity safety house is in order.

While not an exhaustive list, here is a checklist of 10 areas that deserve the most attention and that you can get started on (or even complete) immediately. Keep in mind, cybersecurity often touches physical security, too, so some of the recommendations make important cross-functional impacts, including helping you secure and maintain your insurance coverage.…Read More

Creating student engagement through the power of play

Recently, my colleagues and I attended a summer camp where we introduced students to some fantastic STEM activities. Kids learned how to create their own lava lamps out of everyday kitchen materials. They programed Sphero robots and used them to make cooperative artwork. We also taught them how to make circuits out of batteries and wire, as well as exploding paint bags. The events were endless, and the students had a great time, because more than anything science should be fun!

As I look back on the events of camp, I’m reminded of how important this type of play is for young minds. Play is an essential part of learning and growth. In nature, animal cubs play to sharpen their hunting skills or learn valuable foraging techniques. Among humans, play teaches valuable social skills like communication and cooperation. It also fosters a learning mindset, teaching students to absorb knowledge through exercise and practice.

While unstructured play has its place in education, most teachers need something with a little more organization if we’re to help our students grow. We can accomplish this by dividing play into two distinct categories: Playing Downhill and Playing Uphill.…Read More

How hands-on education creates better educators

The profession of Educator is one of the most important occupations in the world. A great teacher inspires, motivates, encourages, and has direct impact on their students’ academic and career goals.

Educators are held to very high standards and are expected to have advanced knowledge and skills, as well as adopt and adapt to evolving practices and technologies. Great teachers know that their role first and foremost is to treat the student as an individual and understand their needs, learning styles, and abilities.

A teacher’s job is no longer simply delivering facts and information, but to help students learn how to use them, develop abilities to solve problems, make informed decisions, and build knowledge.   …Read More

K-12 Staffing Issues Require Creative Community Solutions

Austin, TX – Staffing issues have been common for many public schools across the country for years. Now, more than ever, communities are positioned to help schools solve this problem with a variety of technology, funding, and community solutions. 

Post-COVID, it’s tempting to believe that the pandemic caused the staffing shortages K-12 schools are currently facing. However, the shortages began after the Great Recession in 2008 when reducing public school funding by $1,000 per student was common in almost every state in the country. Despite state revenues being back to pre-recession levels by 2014, many states still have not increased school funding to pre-recession levels. Add in normal inflation and the unprecedented toll that the pandemic placed on everyone, and public schools are now facing some of the biggest staffing issues.

At WorkMonger, we believe that communities are better positioned than ever before to help solve the staffing issues public schools face. By using technology advancements, community support, staff tenacity, and state funding, communities can help public schools heal and thrive. …Read More

4 insights from city school leaders

Media stories about large metropolitan school districts usually focus on their challenges instead of the impactful work they are doing to help students succeed.

As a former Council of Great City Schools (CGCS) CIO who spent part of my career working at large school systems, I collaborated with countless talented, intelligent, and inspiring education leaders. Many of these relationships were cultivated through my active participation in CGCS, a nonprofit organization whose mission is “to promote the cause of urban schools and to advocate for inner-city students through legislation, research and media relations.” Founded in 1956, the organization now includes 77 of the nation’s largest urban public school systems.

Both CGCS’s recently retired Executive Director and now Strategic Advisor Dr. Michael Casserly, who has been with the organization for over 40 years, and its Director of Management Services Dr. Robert Carlson, who has worked in public education for 60 years, 30 of which he’s spent at CGCS, have witnessed the tremendous progress made by large school districts. They shared four key reflections they’ve gleaned during their tenure with the organization.  …Read More