How to Keep Your Teachers

Obviously, the past few years haven’t been easy for anybody. But the strain on school intervention specialists thrust into remote learning during group trauma has been especially great. Rami Tulp, assistant director of intervention for Katy ISD in Texas details some of the ways her district has catered to the needs of both students and faculty by providing supportive professional development, access to resources like Boardworks lessons, and more. Have a listen and scroll down for some edited excerpts.

We support intervention teachers who work with the students who are most at risk of dropping out—the students who struggle the most. And, you know, that cannot always be the most appealing job when you’re looking at teaching. So we really have been making sure that we support our intervention teachers with good resources as well as professional learning where you want to come back every year and continue to be an intervention teacher and support struggling kids…Coming out of the pandemic, some student struggles with learning have increased. And we need new strategies on how to support these kids. We need to keep building on the strategies that we already have, but also some new ideas, some new techniques. We’ve been doing a lot of campus visits, getting out to campuses and supporting teachers whenever they call, whenever they need an extra set of hands or an extra set of eyes with a class.

Some of the stories that some of our teachers shared when they were working with students virtually is that the home that the children were in wasn’t always somewhere they felt safe or comfortable. They didn’t want to unmute because in the background there might be screaming or something like that happening. We did have quite a few kids who were having to watch over their younger siblings. So there could be little screaming kids running around. We had some kids zooming from a bathtub because it was the quietest place in the house…Some kids were worried about how their hair looked because they haven’t been able to go out and get their hair fixed. …Read More

3 classroom trends real teachers are spearheading

Social and emotional learning and coding are among the top classroom trends that teachers needed help funding last year, according to an analysis of 2018 project requests from the DonorsChoose platform.

Teachers dip into their own pockets to fund classroom projects and buy supplies, and as it turns out, others are happy to donate, too–to the tune of more than $170 million last year. Since its creation in 2000, more than 3.5 million people and partners have donated an astounding $780 million through to help teachers pay for the projects and experiences they want to give their students.

In 2018 alone, 52,000 schools–more than half of all U.S. public schools–received classroom project donations through the giving platform. Seventy-three percent of project requests on the site are from schools where more than half of students receive free or reduced lunch. Overall, in 2018, more than 600,000 donors gave $171 million to fund 274,000 classroom projects.…Read More

5 easy ways to get parents involved in SEL

Social-emotional learning (SEL) equips students with the skills to regulate their emotions, build resilience to stress and challenges, make responsible decisions, collaborate well with others, and empathize and communicate effectively with their peers—all the skills needed to live a healthy and productive life.

SEL is becoming the foundation of many schools across the globe. However, building these core social emotional skills takes time. Like all other skills, social-emotional skills need to be nurtured and learning needs to be ritualized.

SEL shouldn’t stop when the final bell rings. It is critical that we involve parents in social-emotional practices so that students can apply these concepts to life outside the classroom and also witness these important behaviors being modeled through their loved ones. How can we help families foster these skills at home?…Read More

5 Big Ideas for Education Innovation in 2019

Over the last year, education innovators around the country continued to pursue expanded definitions of student success, personalized approaches, and wholly new models of school. For many, the very real challenges of change management and discovering ways to promote scale with quality dominated 2018. But for those conversations to go a level deeper, we can’t assume that these new measures and new models are fully baked or that everything deemed “new” is at it seems. Looking ahead, here are five big ideas I’ll be watching for in 2019:

1. ‘Unbundle’ what we mean by SEL.
Social-emotional learning. Soft Skills. Habits of mind. These critical but sometimes elusive ideas have gotten their fair share of love over the past year. But pulling back the curtain on the research base, the paltry supply of reliable SEL assessments can make the current energy around SEL interventions feel anemic at best, and hollow at worst. Like personalized learning, “SEL” now connotes a bundle of concepts and aspirations that may need to get unbundled in order to be useful. In that vein, in 2019 I’m most excited to watch emerging SEL point solutions targeted at specific, narrow skills or dispositions. These innovations are focused on doing a few things really well. For example, GiveThx, the brainchild of Leadership Public Schools’ teacher-entrepreneur Mike Fauteaux, plucks off one particular emotion and skill: gratitude. In a similar vein, Kind Foundation’s effort,, focuses on experiences that inspire empathy across classrooms. I’ll be watching models like these that offer narrower on-ramps to more rigorous measurement and targeted interventions within the exceedingly broad SEL landscape.

2. Commit to threading the coherent curriculum needle.
Speaking of the murky waters of personalized learning, rumblings (and occasional shouts) about the fragmented state of curriculum to support personalization have been building for years. One of the fundamental tensions we hear articulated is whether a coherent, evidence-based, off-the-shelf curriculum is better than a potpourri of lessons that teachers and leaders assemble—and in some cases build—themselves. Although these debates are not unique to personalized environments, personalization hinges on a commitment to tailor learning experiences to individual students. But the more varied those experiences and resources are, many worry the less rigorous and coherent curriculum becomes. Through the lens of our own Modularity theory, these tradeoffs aren’t unique to curriculum per se: across industries, a modular approach can be more affordable and flexible, while integrated solutions are pricier but better at pushing the frontier of performance. In 2019, I’ll be keeping an eye on how districts and schools manage to strike a balance between the tradeoffs of modular and flexible versus integrated and coherent approaches to curriculum.…Read More

Middle school movies that support SEL in the classroom

No matter how we discover them, the best films move us in ways we’ve never imagined. No matter how old we are, they can make us both laugh and cry, and they help us learn more about ourselves and how we relate to others. Of course, many popular movies deal with social and emotional issues, and these can be great for teaching SEL in our classrooms.

The films on this list are excellent for encouraging students to reflect on and discuss a wide range of social and emotional issues. As teachers, we’re in a unique position to give these films the context they demand. Social and emotional learning doesn’t usually come from watching a movie by yourself—it comes from the rich discussions that form when you’re watching a movie with others and relating what happens in the film to real life. Because of this, it’s crucial that we don’t merely show these films without also giving kids time to reflect on and discuss what they’re watching. As students watch, help them interpret the films you show, and give them direct invitations to ask questions and think critically about what they’re seeing on the screen.

Note that our list includes some films that address complex and mature themes. One of the benefits of kids seeing these films in school, versus on their own, is that teachers can help guide and facilitate conversations about these issues. However—as with any movie you select for your classroom—determine ahead of time what’s OK for your students and the community where you teach, and always follow your school or district’s policies around showing films in the classroom.…Read More

Student wellbeing & SEL are more important than you think

[Editor’s note: eSchool News is thrilled to partner with The Brzycki Group to help our audience navigate the growing body of work and best practices in student wellbeing and social-emotional learning (SEL). These are important topics for eSchool News, and we’re excited to work with the Bryzcki Group, who have provided leadership to student wellbeing for more than 30 years. We want to be the central source for our audience and help highlight the great work institutions are doing to address these issues and make wellbeing a core part of student learning.]

Through monthly articles on the eSchool News and eCampus News media platforms, The Brzycki Group & The Center for the Self in Schools will cover the latest psychological, educational, and wellbeing models, policies, and practices in SEL and student wellbeing. These models address the psychological, emotional, and physical well-being of children and can be applied to K-16 classroom teaching best practices, curricula design, counseling best practices, and educational leadership.

Education professionals across all levels of K-16 education want to make a real difference for students, and many are aware of the growing bodies of work in SEL and student wellbeing. Yet there is general misunderstanding about what these bodies of work mean and how to use them to produce mental health and wellbeing outcomes through schooling. Additionally, there are numerous models from which to choose, such as SEL; multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS); school-based mental health curricula; bullying and school violence prevention programs; anxiety, depression and suicide prevention and treatment models; trauma informed instruction; school climate programs; whole child education; student success programs; life coaching; and academic advising; among others. We often hear educators ask, “Where do I start?”…Read More

SEL + restorative practices = a safe, supportive school climate

Zero tolerance policies, while trying to keep kids accountable for their actions, often result in suspensions for even minor infractions like dress code violations or being tardy. While these behaviors warrant attention, Fatima Rogers, principal of Charles W. Henry School in Philadelphia, and Jody Greenblatt, Esq., deputy of school climate and safety, School District of Philadelphia, questioned what their conduct code and other discipline methods actually did to help students. Working with the Committee for Children, they’re piloting a program merging social emotional learning (SEL) and Restorative Practice (RP) in school. Their goal, as explained in the edWebinar, “SEL and Restorative Practices: Schoolwide Integration Strategies,” is to not only give students the emotional toolkit they need but to also provide a behavioral framework that focuses on support over punishment.

During the presentation, Rogers and Greenblatt discussed several keys to successful implementation of SEL and RP.

  • Focus on all school relationships. While the main goal is to improve student and staff interaction, they also worked on administration and staff as well as staff-to-staff relationships. By concentrating on relationships at all three levels, the overall school culture benefited.
  • An outside coach can offer a new perspective. Truly integrating SEL and RP requires intense work, especially from the staff. Having a third party can provide a fresh take on a school’s progress and objective insights into what is and isn’t working.
  • Planning shouldn’t happen overnight. In preparation, the new practices were introduced in stages. First, the staff met the coach and learned more about SEL and restorative practices. Then, after planning meetings with the leadership team, staff spent two of their four summer PD days in training. During the school year they have monthly check-in meetings, and they also do an overall evaluation at the end of the year.
  • Make time for SEL. While the RP can be integrated throughout the school week, students need dedicated time for SEL lessons. At Henry, they have SEL lessons every Monday morning with follow up throughout the week.
  • Align lessons to school-specific goals. For instance, elementary-age kids might need lessons in empathy and emotion management. Kindergartners who’ve never been in school before might need basic skills for learning. Middle schoolers might work on peer-conflict resolution.
  • Don’t change the code of conduct in name only. As part of embracing restorative practices, administrators eliminated suspensions for grades K-2 and severely decreased suspendable infractions for the other grades. More important, they removed the old offenses as choices from the school discipline system. This gives teachers no option but to use restorative strategies.

Since the pilot program was initiated in the 2017-18 school year, suspensions at Henry have decreased from 48 in 2016-17 to two so far in 2018-19. In addition, the number of students with 95 percent+ attendance has increased to 426. But despite the success, the administrators aren’t pulling back on the training. All new teachers have RP in their contracts, and all teacher groups devote at least one meeting a month to RP and SEL.…Read More

Teacher training does wonders for students’ emotional regulation

When teachers participated in a training program focused on pro-social classroom behavior, their students became more socially competent and better able to regulate their emotions than students in classrooms without trained teachers, according to new research from the University of Missouri (MU).

Past research shows that students who are able to regulate their emotions are more likely to be academically successful.

Wendy Reinke and Keith Herman, professors in MU’s College of Education, studied more than 100 teachers and 1,817 students from kindergarten to third grade to see if teachers could support students’ emotional and behavioral growth through the Incredible Years Teacher Classroom Management Program.…Read More

The 14 most innovative SEL districts, part 2

[Editor’s Note: This article was first published on the Move This World blog on November 1, 2018.]

Make sure you read “The 14 most innovative SEL districts, part 1.”

In this article, we will be highlighting districts that have shown tremendous commitment to the well being of their students and staff. These 14 districts are being recognized for their efforts in social emotional learning (SEL) and their dedication to creating safe learning environments where individuals feel empowered to express themselves, and where effective teaching and learning can occur.…Read More

The 14 Most Innovative SEL Districts, Part 1

[Editor’s Note: This article was first published on the Move This World blog on November 1, 2018. Come back tomorrow for part 2.]

In this article, we will be highlighting districts that have shown tremendous commitment to the well being of their students and staff. These 14 districts are being recognized for their efforts in social emotional learning (SEL) and their dedication to creating safe learning environments where individuals feel empowered to express themselves, and where effective teaching and learning can occur.

What is SEL? As defined by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), social emotional learning is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.…Read More