6 ways to optimize your school’s SEL curriculum

When I became principal of Brookwood Elementary School five years ago, I came with a deep understanding of the value of social-emotional learning (SEL) for K-5 students. Having used the 7 Mindsets SEL curriculum for roughly six years at my prior school, I knew right away that I could help my new school optimize its SEL curriculum, which had been in place for about a year.

I didn’t have to convince them that they had a great SEL curriculum in place because they had already adopted it and were using it. We just needed to put some more systems in place for the teachers to really buy into it.

Here are six steps we took to make that happen:…Read More

3 steps to creating a comfortable learning environment

Students have started a new school year and are facing the many challenges still present with in-person learning amid a pandemic. One of the most important to address is how schools address student safety and health–both physical and mental. CDC research has already documented the negative effects COVID-19 has inflicted upon children’s mental well-being.

Schools that established health and safety policies and procedures before this academic year began are best poised to help protect their students’ well-being. But it’s not too late–as school leaders confront the evolving situation, security technology can help build an environment where students feel safe, comfortable, and confident, and where every person’s well-being is prioritized.

Integrating security technology doesn’t have to be a complex process. Keep reading for an easy-to-follow approach school leaders can use to identify and execute on opportunities for enhancing their students’ health and safety journey.…Read More

Using the rule of threes for a technology strategy

As the new school year starts amid fresh uncertainty, educators are grappling with how to navigate what I’ve come to call the “And Era.” The And Era is not about going only remote or returning to purely in-person experiences, but adopting the best of both. While many schools are bringing kids back into classrooms this year, the spread of the Delta variant and other factors out of their control mean they must again be prepared to support a mix of virtual and in-person learning.

That means focusing on what they can control–developing and deploying a strong technology strategy that will give them the agility to combine varying degrees of in-person and remote elements into a seamless learning experience. The heart of that strategy should center around three interdependent components: hardware, software, and the network.

While the stakes are enormous, the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and its $130 billion in new K-12 funding offers great hope that schools will be able to secure the technology, expertise- and resources they need to build an educational infrastructure for the next generation. Given the possibility that many students will spend one-fourth of their learning journey under these trying circumstances, making best use of those funds to implement a thoughtful technology strategy is more important than ever.…Read More

Delta variant forcing districts to find new ways to assess learning

At this point last year, we hoped we’d be on the other side of COVID-19. Instead, the combination of the Delta variant and a new school year means educators and administrators are finding themselves in a state of flux. Cases in school districts are on the rise. Large numbers of students are quarantining. In some instances, there aren’t enough teachers in school buildings to conduct in-person learning.

As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic, teachers are facing a whole new type of disruption to their ability to teach. Now more than ever, they need to be able to continually assess learning, to have a line of sight into what students know and what students do not yet know.

Why is it so hard right now?…Read More

4 tips to boost classroom engagement and productivity

The past 18 months tested everyone, and few were more tested than teachers. Many educators adjusted to entirely new teaching requirements during the pandemic, while districts rushed to supply tools and technologies to address the need for remote and hybrid learning environments. Now, as we are making our way into a new school year, still more unknowns await. Educators are tasked with the challenge of building a sense of belonging while boosting learning gains, no matter where their classroom turns out to be.

One advantage educators have in 2021 is that the tools purchased to address teaching during COVID-19 remain on-hand and relevant for the upcoming school year. From laptops and tablets to headsets and digital styluses, new tech options open up possibilities that allow all students, regardless of location, age or learning style, to thrive.

As educators, it’s important we harness the power of these essential tools to boost classroom engagement and productivity. Even simple adjustments can yield a big impact on a child’s learning experience and help students focus on their work, encourage collaboration, and ensure engaging educational experiences are always within reach.…Read More

7 eye-opening back-to-school predictions

This back-to-school season is unlike any before it. Not only are many students heading back to full in-person learning after more than a year of virtual or hybrid learning, they’re doing it in the middle of COVID-19 surges nationwide.

The pandemic brought with it a renewed focus on glaring equity gaps, the need for strong cybersecurity practices, and social-emotional support for students and educators.

Here, educators share some of their back-to-school predictions, including trends and practices they expect to see as the school year progresses.…Read More

Do your teachers think PD is a dirty word?

This past year, teachers were introduced to a lot of new technology to help facilitate distance learning. And, because of this, professional development (PD) time often morphed into technical training–how to use Zoom, how to best utilize a new learning app or software program, how to troubleshoot student device issues.

With so much on teachers’ plates, this so-called PD became draining. Teachers simply couldn’t spend any more valued time learning yet another new program. And they weren’t getting the important support they needed to make tactical pedagogical shifts for their evolving learning spaces.

Heading into a new school year, we have a chance to hit the reset button to restore true PD time into teachers’ schedules.…Read More

8 fun digital learning tools for the new school year

This fall’s back-to-school season brings with it a variety of emotions–excitement, relief, anticipation, and hesitation prompted by concerns around COVID-19’s Delta variant. And because schools may move to hybrid or virtual learning despite starting in person, digital learning tools that work in the physical or virtual classroom can prove invaluable.

Recent research from Texthelp shows that teachers believe students were significantly less engaged this past school year, but that digital tools were a bright spot in their classrooms. In fact, 90 percent of teachers say they plan to use edtech tools this upcoming school year.

Through using these tools, teachers say they experienced increased efficiency across the board and that students now have the accessible and engaging tools they need.…Read More

3 technologies needed for remote learning

As everyone spends the summer preparing for a new school year, many are preparing for virtual options to stick around post pandemic. In a recent survey conducted by Instructure, two-thirds of the educators surveyed believe remote learning will impact classroom practices in the future. But what will this future look like, exactly?

A recent survey of districts estimated 56 percent of schools will offer a remote learning option in the fall. One of the biggest lessons this past school year taught us was that educators teaching students online and in-person at the same time is typically not a successful teaching model. Moving forward, many districts offering a virtual option are planning to have virtual teachers solely with virtual students, while teachers back in their regular classrooms will only teach in-person students.

In this same survey, 89 percent of teachers said they taught online for the very first time during the pandemic. So as districts ask teachers to volunteer to switch to remote teaching, there are technology considerations to get in place this summer to help make teaching virtually this coming school year a success.  …Read More

8 COVID learning practices this district is keeping

As educators across the U.S. enter their classrooms for a new school year–one that is still a bit uncertain given concerns over new COVID variants and how to safely bring students back to school–many are bringing new strategies, tools, and practices with them.

While COVID presented educators with myriad challenges, it also prompted many to discover new ways to teach, to lead, and to inspire. In fact, many educators are starting this new school year with so-called “COVID learning practices”–tools, mindsets, and strategies they never used or knew about until COVID forced their hands.

One important–arguably the most important–lesson? Learning cannot return to how it was pre-COVID.…Read More