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

7 predictions about pandemic learning

Each year, we share our 10 most-read stories. Not surprisingly, many of this year’s Top 10 focused on student engagement and online or hybrid learning strategies related to pandemic teaching. This year’s Number 1 most-read story focuses on what back-to-school looks like during pandemic learning.

As schools across the nation open their classrooms for a return to full in-person learning, educators, parents, and stakeholders are wondering what the fall will bring. Concerns about COVID surges and a return to remote or hybrid learning aren’t far from educators’ minds.

When schools across the country started shutting down in-person instruction in March of 2020 in response to the COVID-19 virus, much of the nation’s focus turned to COVID’s immediate and long-term impact on students. …Read More

5 learning strategies that are here to stay

Each year, we share our 10 most-read stories. Not surprisingly, many of this year’s Top 10 focused on student engagement and online or hybrid learning strategies related to pandemic teaching. This year’s 4th most-read story focuses on some learning strategies that have staying power.

In 2020, students, teachers, and parents made an extraordinary pivot to distance learning with no preparation at all. From the district perspective, investments have been made in technology and infrastructure that may not have been made otherwise. We all gained phenomenal skills and insights as a result of having to make this abrupt turn, and then having to sustain that as the global pandemic persisted.

Now, we’re at a point where students, parents, and teachers all deserve to sustain those investments and the skills that they’ve built over time in order to reach one another and continue the learning. There will be some undeniable academic, social, and emotional gaps, of course, because kids have been away from their friends, teachers have been away from their classrooms, and school leaders have been away from their buildings.…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

3 ways you can use digital tools to boost student motivation

Many educators navigating the use of technology for learning have seen this scenario come to life in the classroom: you give your students an online assignment and a few minutes into it you start the exhausting routine of trying to guess who might be opening other tabs to play games or watch videos, while you figure out ways to redirect them towards their work. 

In fact, the switch to hybrid and fully virtual learning during the pandemic highlighted how students can become distracted and lose motivation when they are seemingly hiding behind a screen, causing many frustrated parents and teachers to loathe the use of technology in learning.

But before you give up on e-learning altogether and grab that printed worksheet, let me tell you that there is a world of wonderful apps and platforms out there that when used properly can actually INCREASE student engagement and motivation, and help you maintain it throughout the school year. …Read More

Does learning happen if you don’t see it?

As we settle into another academic year filled with uncertainty due to the pandemic, educators are taking a deeper look into what can be learned from the tumult of the last two years. Schools around the world were forced to quickly pivot to virtual learning and many have just recently returned to a traditional, in-person model.

Many parents still want an online option, but critics of online learning have questioned whether students really progressed academically without in-person supervision. The question on everyone’s mind: “Do students learn when you don’t see it?”

The short answer is yes, and it becomes abundantly clear why–once we update our mindset around what education can and should look like, and how we measure its success. Online learning provides access to a wealth of data that educators can use to personalize learning for students. Once educators and districts understand the unique advantages of online teaching and learning, they can update their approach to take advantage of the best of both worlds.…Read More

7 strategies to get teacher buy-in for new technology tools

Parent engagement is a driving factor behind any child’s success in school—but a nationwide survey of more than 1,000 teachers found that parents are often disengaged in their child’s learning journey. To harness edtech tools that can help school-home communication, it’s essential to first secure teacher buy-in.

More than half of the teachers surveyed believe parents do not understand the importance of their involvement in their child’s school experience, and they assume education is a teacher’s job–not a collaborative effort between parents and teachers.

As the district technology integrationist in a rural Title 1 district, I continually look for affordable and/or free edtech resources that will bridge the communication gap between teachers and parents. But those resources also require teacher buy-in.…Read More

What teachers and parents should know about ransomware

In the face of continued uncertainty related to the pandemic, families like mine prepared for a return to school that still looked a little bit more like normal this year. For many parents, teachers and caregivers who struggled through a year of remote learning, with all of its online homework assignments and Zoom classes, this has been a major relief.

In my case, and admittedly more so for my superhero wife, last year involved the all-but-impossible task of wrangling 6- and 8-year-old children in front of a screen two to three times a day and somehow keeping them there through bathroom break requests and hunger pangs that only conveniently cropped up during online learning sessions.

It also meant enforcing dedicated “asynchronous learning” time for children who desperately need synchronous learning routines alongside their friends to conform to normal classroom behavior (i.e. “If my friends are paying attention, maybe I should too”). Now throw in the added complication that our children’s school had no way of restricting access to apps or websites such as YouTube on their school-issued devices, and the parenting intensity meter just about redlines.    …Read More