Making the most of your return to school

Even though schools are back to in-person learning, the pandemic taught us something about how automating processes can save time–and if educators need more of anything, it’s time.

Students, parents, and staff can work smarter and more effectively with self-service forms, electronic signatures, pre-populated agreements, and automated approval processes.

You can transform your agreement process by eliminating paper, automating workflows, and connecting the systems within your organization as you learn best practices for human resources, special education/student services, and procurement.…Read More

Schools, at halftime, need to put funding into play for the second half of the year

As we enter into another winter season living with the pandemic, special education services are not where schools hoped they would be, with many feeling that they are still falling behind rather than beginning to catch up.

New York City recently announced delays to its academic recovery program for students with special needs. New York, like many others, is stretching limits to get programs activated, even allowing for educators not specifically trained in special education to staff programs. In addition to the urgency they are feeling every day to serve parents and children, there’s another good reason to expand programs right now: funding.

It was good news when states and districts received $190 billion in federal aid from three relief packages in the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund. But it’s a jaw-dropping amount of money, with limits on when and how to use it for special education. For once, the challenge on the ground for schools is not how to manage a tight budget. It’s how to manage the rush of money that’s available: when to get it, how best to use it, and how to be accountable for it.…Read More

Focusing on key standards to accelerate learning

While each standard is important and it should not be up to individual teachers which are taught and which are not, the truth is that each year some skills get overlooked or rushed past. It may not be ideal, but there are so many that, as education researcher Bob Marzano once noted, if we taught students to master every standard in each grade, we’d have students in class year-round and they wouldn’t graduate until they were in their twenties!

This year, teachers are finding themselves with even more ground to cover. In addition to the standards of the grades they’re currently in, many students, particularly those in middle school, need instruction in skills they would have mastered last year without the disruptions associated with the pandemic.

Simply put, many students still need to learn material from last year before they are ready to progress to this year’s standards. Here’s how my district, Schuyler Community Schools, is working to get students up to speed while still addressing the new content they need to learn this year.…Read More

3 best practices to take with us to the ‘other side’

Who would have thought that we would still be teaching in the midst of a pandemic? At the beginning of this school year, public school districts had to make important decisions about how to approach this school year. How would they keep students safe? How would they continue to engage students in learning? And, how would they support teachers in the process?

At St. Vrain Valley Schools in Longmont, Colorado, we acknowledge we are teaching in a pandemic, yet we still need to move students forward and continue to help them grow. This is a delicate balance, especially as teachers are dealing with the stresses of a changing landscape and the desire to find their footing with new instructional challenges.

Prior to and particularly now during the pandemic, coaching has been a vital support in helping educators find balance and maintain the pace they are working. It has also given them adequate time and space to think and process the learning that is occurring in their classroom every day. …Read More

How to assess your school’s indoor air quality

COVID-19 ushered forth a plethora of new safety guidelines and strategies intended to bring students and teachers back to the classroom as safely as possible. Indoor air quality has topped the list of school leaders’ concerns.

With students back in physical classrooms, air quality must take priority regardless of a district’s mask policy.

Join this eSchool News webinar to learn about:…Read More

4 education predictions for 2022

As we enter the third year in which every aspect of American life has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, I believe that educators, parents, and students have several reasons for real optimism.

Here are four ways I see education changing for the better in 2022 and beyond.

COVID won’t cause any more school closures. Looking forward to the new year, I’m foreseeing no more school closures due to COVID. That’s not really an educational prediction—it’s more about consistency, which kids really need to learn. …Read More

How to support older struggling readers

The reasons that students remain struggling readers in middle and high school are frequently based on myths and misconceptions.

The first big myth, based on reading assessment measures, is that comprehension is the problem. The majority of reading assessments and standardized tests for older students focus on reading comprehension measures without determining gaps in the essential components that lead to comprehension: decoding, fluency, and vocabulary. A low comprehension score doesn’t tell teachers what they need to know to intervene, yet the proposed solution is often more reading “strategies.” This is generally unsuccessful because, as stated by Dr. Anita Archer, “There is no reading strategy powerful enough to compensate for the fact that you can’t read the words.”

Decades of research have shown that effective readers have a solid and automatic knowledge of how to translate the sounds of our language to the print that represents those sounds. This begins with the sounds for consonants and vowels—called phoneme proficiency—and an understanding of how speech and print work together for reading and spelling. Without this foundation, the ability to develop accurate and automatic word recognition and fluency will always be limited.…Read More

Here’s why SEL should be a top priority in schools

Covid brought with it countless challenges–but one thing it emphasized? The need for social-emotional learning (SEL) in each and every classroom.

Students can’t learn unless they feel safe and secure. It is this state of well-being that greatly contributes to their academic achievement, personal growth, and health. SEL quickly skyrocketed from a “nice to have” classroom feature to something that districts prioritized and quickly moved to incorporate as classroom must-haves.

So, what are the most important aspects of an SEL program? How can your school and district support the whole child in person and online? What resources will support learning recovery, equity, and student engagement?…Read More

5 principles for an equitable SEL initiative

According to a recent report, fewer than one in four teachers say social-emotional learning (SEL) is implemented in their school on a programmatic, schoolwide basis.

More than two decades of research proves that SEL yields positive results for students, adults, and school communities. The pandemic and its impact on education emphasizes the need for curated, vetted SEL resources that educators can use to support the whole child–regardless of the learning environment.

Initiatives like the Social-Emotional Learning Coalition–which is created in partnership between Discovery Education, The Allstate Foundation, The National Afterschool Association, and Responsibility.org–are working to address the needs of students and educators by improving access to resources that support the integration of SEL into core instruction. To achieve this, the Coalition follows five guiding principles, which schools and district leaders can also follow to create an SEL framework that’s both equitable and impactful. Those principles are:…Read More

TutorMe Launches Partnership with Saint Paul Public Schools

SAINT PAUL, Minn. (November 15, 2021) TutorMe, the online tutor of the future, today announced a partnership with Saint Paul Public School District to provide more than 33,000 K-12 students with free access to TutorMe’s online, 24/7 tutoring service for the 2021-2022 school year.

With more than 15,000 tutors available anytime to help with more than 300 subjects, TutorMe provides immediate expertise whenever and wherever students need it. Whether it’s homework help or a study session, students pair up with their private tutor for a personalized 1-on-1 lesson in the advanced lesson space.

“Providing access to TutorMe supports our district-wide effort to close academic gaps exacerbated by COVID-19 and accelerate learning recovery through the 2021-2022 school year,” said Darren Ginther, the district’s director of the office of college and career readiness. “The personalized support empowers students and their families to get the help they need at anytime, anywhere, whether it be during remote learning, late-night studying after extracurriculars, or when they hit a roadblock with their homework.”  …Read More