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

State of School Safety Report Reveals Students Want More Social and Emotional Support and Increased Safety

NEWTOWN, CT, July 25, 2022 – A national survey and report released by Safe and Sound Schools with Raptor Technologies and Lightspeed Systems® surveyed school leaders, public safety, mental health, teachers, parents, and students identifying gaps in feelings and perceptions about school safety, in particular with students.

In general, most groups feel schools are safe. However, students express the greatest concerns over feeling safe physically and emotionally. This suggests a strong need for schools to focus on identifying early indicators of concern so they can offer support well before a student proceeds down a path of harm to self or others. Re-education on safety procedures and enhanced reporting and managing of low-level indicators may be necessary to build confidence in students’ safety and wellbeing.

“Now more than ever, it is critical that school communities engage all stakeholders—from students to superintendents—in conversation and decision-making to protect our most sacred spaces and precious community members, our schools and our students,” said Michele Gay, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Safe and Sound Schools.…Read More

3 ways families can support students’ learning at home

For parents and caregivers, supporting your child’s learning can be stressful. Academic concepts are taught differently than they used to be. In addition, we’re all grappling with a scarcity of time and juggling competing priorities. It is hard to keep up–especially if you don’t have the resources to do so.

At Brooklyn Landmark Elementary School, we recognize that part of supporting students’ success is supporting families. Research shows students who have families engaged in their learning are more likely to attend school regularly, have improved social skills and behavior, and achieve high levels of academic performance.

One of our goals is to build the capacity of our families to make supporting their child’s learning as easy and accessible as possible. For example, we offer family coffee chats and family workshops that provide practical strategies and ways to support their own mental health and wellbeing—as well as their children’s.…Read More

6 ways administrators can address teacher burnout in their schools

The significant negative impact of the pandemic on educators is no secret. Teacher burnout is at an all-time high, self-care techniques are feeling futile, violence against teachers is on the rise and verbal abuse by parents is increasing. Fears about lost learning and teacher resignation continue to dominate the news.

During a recent meeting with a group of educators, I recalled the stress from the last two years accompanied by decades of pressure our systems have placed on an already weary profession. “Teachers need to give themselves some grace,” said Tamara Cervantes, a principal/director. “We are all under pressure to perform under all the administrative demands, and we underestimate our limitations. We forget we are human.”

Burnout is a buzzword that fails to carry the significance of the issue. We are great at raising the red flag, but solutions that help educators make significant changes are slow to come. Unfortunately, the pandemic compounded stress with the addition of compassion fatigue. While burnout occurs over time and is usually the result of work stressors like staff shortages or inadequate resources, compassion fatigue occurs when we exhaust our ability to empathize. The pandemic amplified these stressors and flipped the world upside down for educators. …Read More

How to talk to your students about trauma and school violence

It is an unacceptable reality that educators, parents, and caregivers must talk to children about gun violence in schools, repeatedly, in the wake of school shootings.

At the same time as stakeholders once again demand that lawmakers take action and protect the nation’s children while they are in classrooms–classrooms that are supposed to be safe–educators and caregivers are left with the heavy burden of addressing students’ anxieties and responses to trauma.

Conversations around school violence may feel uncomfortable, but many experts say open and clear communication can help students process what happened and feel safe in their classrooms, homes, and communities.…Read More

How does neurodiversity impact learners and educators?

Close to half of student may have a learning different, and more than half of parents in say they have sought supplemental learning services for their child, according to a recent survey.

The 2022 Learnfully Neurodiversity Report, from personalized learning platform Learnfully, surveyed parents and educators across the U.S. and examines awareness of learning differences and the impact of neurodiversity on educators, learners, and parents.

The report found that 41 percent of kids may have a learning difference, with 24 percent having a confirmed diagnosis and another 17 percent of parents suspecting their child has a learning difference, a number that is much higher – more than double – than accepted industry statistics. …Read More

How to create a multi-layered approach to ADHD treatment

According to the CDC, 9.4 percent of children have ADHD. Teachers are often familiar with the associated behaviors of ADHD. Each child’s presentation of ADHD is unique. Some of the most common symptoms of ADHD include difficulty sustaining attention, completing assigned tasks at school (often including homework), physical restlessness, strain in social relationships and appearing off task due to daydreaming.

With nearly one in 10 kids struggling with some form of ADHD, it can put a strain on teachers in the classroom. For teachers and school systems, often the best way to manage ADHD in the classroom is to form a partnership with parents to develop a consistent strategy that can help children manage their ADHD behaviors. Consistency of care between a child’s home life and their school activities can provide the best support and least amount of disruption for the child as they transition between school and home. 

It is important to remember that the child’s brain is rapidly developing. Often they are not cognitively or emotionally developed enough to change their own behaviors. They need care and support from their parents and school systems. In many cases, teachers are aware of effective strategies for supporting children with ADHD, while parents are in new, uncharted territory as they begin to learn about the best ways to support their child.…Read More

Transforming education through the ingenuity of communities

If there is one opportunity that emerged from the political, racial, and pandemic-centered strife of the past two years, it is the recognition that communities are the heartbeat of our education ecosystem.

While schools are embedded in communities, the education that occurs within communities has largely been framed as separate from school—after-school, out-of-school, and informal learning. The pandemic challenged the distinction by connecting the classroom directly to the community – the parents, families and organizations that support students outside of the school building.

Examples include:…Read More

2 years after COVID, remote learning lessons are clear

While many American parents and students say they are now ready to move on from the COVID-19 pandemic – 77 percent of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, a number that has not changed much in recent months – the coronavirus seems likely to remain with us in some form for the time being. The number of infections is once again rising in the U.K. and Europe, which may presage another wave of cases here in the U.S. This potential disruption comes exactly two years since the vast majority of U.S. schools shut their doors and transitioned to remote learning in response to the start of the pandemic. 

Since that time, educators, parents, and experts have debated the pros and cons of virtual education compared to the traditional in-person learning environment. It’s important to take stock of what we’ve learned about virtual education over the past two years, so that we can continue providing the best possible learning experience for students.

It has become accepted wisdom in some quarters that remote education is simply worse across the board for students than traditional in-person models. Certain studies have blamed virtual education for learning loss, social isolation, mental health and behavioral issues, and more. However, using remote learning as a catch-all for a variety of school-related challenges (many of which existed before the pandemic) misses some nuances. …Read More