5 components of a great hybrid learning program

Each year, we share our 10 most-read stories. Not surprisingly, many of this year’s Top 10 focused on innovative ways to engage students, digital resources, and online and hybrid learning strategies related to post-pandemic teaching. This year’s 10th most-read story focuses on creating a great hybrid learning program.

Over the past year and a half, “hybrid learning” has become quite the buzzword when it comes to education. With the COVID-19 pandemic impacting learners across the world, we’ve witnessed the growing need for hybrid learning, an education option that combines the benefits of a traditional in-person classroom and online learning. But the need for this option won’t just be a fleeting trend. The future of hybrid learning is bright, and the benefits are unmatched. I’ve seen it for myself.

As an educator for 10 years, I’ve worked in in-person, online, and hybrid classrooms. I’ve experienced the dos and don’ts of creating learning environments where my students can not only learn but be their best selves. When my colleagues ask me for my secret for success, here are the tips that I share: …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

How to keep your students weird

Some years ago, when I was still working as a teacher, I had a student come to me in a state of distress. Like many young people her age, she was having trouble fitting in. Everything from her hair to her clothes to her overall demeanor made her stand out, and as a result, some of her fellow students had taken to calling her a “weirdo.” I am not proud of everything that I’ve done in education, but I am proud of what I told her next. I told this student the truth.

I told her that she WAS weird – and that all of the best people are. I told her she was one of my favorite students because of what made her unique. I told her I would do everything I could to make the school safer for weirdos like her, and that in the outside world, all the great advancements came from people who didn’t fit in.

Every educator knows that weirdness is what makes our students grow. After all, curiosity, creativity, and critical thought don’t bloom in a stagnant mind. So instead of wringing our hands over the social ecosystem, let’s encourage our students to think weirder.…Read More

6 reasons to improve teacher and principal evaluation policies

New data and analysis released by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) finds ample opportunities for improvement in states’ teacher and principal evaluation policies. With educator quality as the most powerful in-school factor that contributes to students’ academic success, an essential component to supporting student recovery in the wake of pandemic-related learning loss must be ensuring all students have access to effective teachers and administrators.

Evidence-based teacher and principal evaluation policies, when well-implemented, have great potential to help individual educators strengthen their practice, promote overall improvements in the quality of the workforce, and—most importantly—support increased student achievement.

“Strong, well-implemented teacher and principal evaluation systems can make a big difference for both teachers and students,” said Dr. Heather Peske, NCTQ President. “It’s disappointing to see that states have continued to back away from evidence-based evaluation policies and practices over the past several years, especially when we need to ensure every child has access to great teachers more than ever.”

The new NCTQ report, State of the States 2022: Teacher and Principal Evaluation Policies, presents data and analysis on policies from all 50 states and D.C. covering essential, evidence-based components of teacher and principal evaluation systems. Despite increased state adoption of evidence-based evaluation policies over a decade ago, the most recent data documents a continued decline in the number of states with teacher and principal evaluation requirements in place that research shows have the potential to drive significant improvements in student learning. 

Key findings in the NCTQ data include:

  • Fewer states require that objective measures of student growth be included in a teacher or principal’s evaluation. Helping students to grow academically is core to the role of all educators. Between 2009 and 2015, most states adopted policies that required educator evaluations include some objective measure of student growth, such as student state, district, or school assessment data or data from student learning objectives. However, while 43 states had this requirement for both teacher and principal evaluations in 2015, that number has since dropped to 30 states for teachers and 27 states for principals. While the pandemic may have interrupted assessments, recent declines in student results should reinvigorate states’ focus on student growth.
  • Fewer states now explicitly allow or require that student feedback be incorporated into a teacher’s evaluation. Teacher evaluations that include multiple sources of data, including from student assessments, teacher observations, and student surveys, create a fuller, more accurate picture of a teacher’s performance. Despite evidence that feedback from students is an important component to include in assessing teacher quality and to gauge students’ experiences, only five states now require that student surveys be included in a teacher’s evaluation. Support for including survey data in principal evaluations has also declined, with now only eight states requiring surveys or feedback from students, teachers, parents, and/or peers be included in a principal’s evaluation.

Related:
Prediction: The future of teacher evaluations is video
Post-COVID plans should focus on program values and evaluation…Read More

4 ways transparent communication builds trust in our district

One of the best ways to build trust with parents is through transparent communication about what’s happening on campus, the status of all things school-related, and how we’re meeting our students’ needs.

Parents are busy and don’t always have time to chase this information down on their own, so it’s up to district and school leaders to open up those clear lines of communication and then use them.

Technology is a great enabler for districts that want to do a better job in this area. By using our ParentSquare safe and secure platform for school-home communications, we’re getting rid of the many disparate solutions that our schools were using—including social media—and replacing them with a unified solution that everyone can use and rely on.…Read More

Building a Successful Certification Program at Your Institution

In a world where competition for jobs, pay increases, and academic success continues to increase, certifications offer hope to candidates and educators.

Certification helps to build a skilled workforce that meets the needs of local employers and government tech initiatives. Certification strikes the right balance of academic excellence and real-world skills, giving students the confidence and motivation they need to succeed both in school and in a profitable career.

“According to Pearson VUE’s 2021 Value of Certification study, 69% of IT managers believe certification significantly increases an employee’s productivity,” said Ray Murray, of Vice President and General Manager, Certiport. “Certifications are a great way to help candidates get their foot in the door and be more productive in their future careers.”

Defining certification

A certification is any credential that an individual can earn or achieve that validates a level of knowledge or a skillset related to a specific subject or discipline. Certifications are credentials that stand in addition to, in support of, or independently from degrees and diplomas.…Read More

How schools can become air quality champions this year

The COVID-19 pandemic affected every aspect of our lives for more than two years, but perhaps the hardest hit population were children who suddenly found themselves unable to go to school. This was disruptive not only from an educational standpoint, but socially, as well. That’s why school districts have done everything in their power so that children can experience a normal 2022–2023 school year. But that can only happen if superintendents make safety a top priority to prevent coronavirus outbreaks that could derail their carefully planned back-to-school plans. And it all starts with air quality. 

This isn’t just a local issue. Over the coming months, the Biden administration will be honoring and highlighting school districts who are excelling in their efforts to improve indoor air quality. It’s a great opportunity for leaders to be recognized for their amazing work, and to instill confidence in a public that is still skeptical that the worst days of the pandemic are behind us. 

According to a recent statement from the White House, in addition to vaccines, boosters, and COVID tests, one of the pillars of keeping schools open is, “helping schools plan and implement indoor air quality improvements.” Schools will have access to federal funds to optimize ventilation through inspection, repairs, upgrades, and replacements in their HVAC systems, as well as installing new systems that facilitate better ventilation. …Read More

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