9 social-emotional learning strategies to use in the new year

Following the 2020-2021 school year, educators can look back with pride–and exhaustion–on all we have learned. We have learned to teach in brand new modalities like remote and hybrid learning, foster more student independence, and adapt instruction to a huge variety of learning needs.

But one of the most important lessons to come from this pandemic year is a greater focus on the importance of social-emotional learning.

Throughout this school year, educators, coaches, and school leaders have engaged in virtual professional development and one-on-one coaching sessions to hone their social-emotional learning skills and knowledge to meet the needs of all learners. The following are some of the most effective strategies all educators should take within them into next year.…Read More

Creating classroom community in a digital space

One of my favorite parts of being an educator is the sense of community that is created with each new class of students. Fostering that feeling in person has its challenges of course, but is a bit easier to administer and coach when you’re face to face. When asked to build that same sense of community with my students through a computer screen as we went into a distance learning mode, my brain started to misfire. How am I going to do that? Are the students going to be engaged in their learning? Will they be able to feel that sense of belonging in a virtual classroom setting? So, after a few days of crying and worrying, I accepted this new challenge.

My teaching and tech skills were going to be put to the ultimate test.

As I’m reflecting on this past school year, I think it’s the strongest bond I’ve ever built with a group of students, thanks in part to technology and the community building that had to initially happen in our virtual classroom. My goal for this article is to share strategies and tips that worked well and helped me nurture and grow that strong teacher to student relationship through a screen, despite the collective challenges we faced.…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

YouScience Achieves Significant Business Momentum in 2021 Fueled by Employer Demand for Aptitude-Aligned Candidates and Individuals Seeking to Validate Skills

AMERICAN FORK, Utah, Dec. 20, 2021 / — Today,  YouScience, the only fully-integrated platform provider of highly accurate aptitude-based assessments, personalized career guidance, and industry-recognized certifications, announced new business milestones revealing strong company momentum, customer, and employers participating in the Platform growth in 2021.

Notably, the company launched  Employer Connections earlier this year adding more than 260 organizations. With Employer Connections, skilled prospective employees who complete a YouScience Discovery aptitude test are matched with organizations of all types and sizes – from Nissan and Bobcat, to Monroe County Sheriff and Estee Lauder – looking for their talents and skills.

Employer Connections is significant for organizations seeking to build their future talent pipelines because it allows skilled prospective employees to be matched to companies based on the organizations’ need and the individual’s natural talents, certifications and interests. This is especially vital amid the mass exodus of individuals quitting their jobs in the past few years, labeled ‘The Great Resignation.’   According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a record 4.4 million Americans quit their jobs in September 2021 alone. The number of unfilled jobs remained at 11 million in October 2021.…Read More

4 ways to use SEL to prepare students for life beyond high school

Preparing students for life beyond high school can mean many things. It can mean making sure they have the knowledge and technical skills needed for a specific job. Or helping them achieve the GPA or course requirements needed to get into a certain college or university. It should also mean focusing on what are sometimes called the “soft skills”–I call them “life skills.”

Life skills are the social and emotional skills that help someone succeed, both in academics and in life–skills like relationship-building, personal responsibility, and decision-making. When you start to look at what the ideal graduate looks like, they would have both academic and social and emotional skills.

I serve as principal of the 540-student Business Technology Early College High School (BTECH) in Queens, New York. Our focus is on underserved youth who are interested in careers in information technology and computers. We have many pathways and partnerships to help prepare students for college and career. …Read More

3 approaches to help students become responsible cyber citizens

Children are getting more screen time than ever—a side effect of the pandemic’s impact on our usual routines.

It’s not just the pandemic, however. Kids’ media preferences are changing as new apps and sleeker technology make it easier to stay connected (and be entertained) wherever they go. Just in the past four years, we’ve seen dramatic shifts in online video viewing, smartphone ownership, and more.

Technology and the internet are omnipresent—and today’s youth must be equipped with skills to safely consume, evaluate, and share information online—including how they interact with their peers.…Read More

4 ways to incorporate student voice, choice, and SEL into learning

Research shows that giving students agency and influence in their learning makes them more engaged and invested in their education. It also empowers them to take control, show initiative, and adopt leadership roles. Giving students voice and choice also helps them feel valued, encourages them to realize their interests and potential, and can improve their academic outcomes.

Student voice, choice and social and emotional learning (SEL) go hand-in-hand. SEL helps students develop agency because it teaches them to engage authentically as leaders, problem-solvers, and decision-makers. It also improves students’ communication skills and their ability to advocate for themselves.

Here are four ways schools can incorporate student voice, choice, and SEL in students’ learning.…Read More

3 ways to prepare for rigorous math learning

While students across all grades have shown growth during the pandemic-related learning disruptions, that growth hasn’t kept pace with what we’d expect to see in a typical year. According to the most recent data, students in grades 2–8 have fallen an average of 11 percentile points below typical year expectations in math.

In terms of instructional time, it will take approximately 11 weeks to make up that lost ground, though it varies widely from grade to grade. Recouping an 11-percentile point drop in 2nd grade, for example, will require an estimated five weeks, while covering a similar drop in 6th grade will take more like 15 weeks.

The issue is that the math skills we expect students to master do not always increase linearly in terms of difficulty. If math standards and skills are a staircase, most of them are short, relatively uniform steps up—but every once in a while, we expect students to take big leaps in understanding and ability.…Read More

10 SEL activities for K-8 students

Did you know that social and emotional learning (SEL) skills can easily be taught to students in grades K-8 right alongside core academic instruction in classrooms or afterschool programs?

From reading, writing, and arithmetic, SEL can be woven into nearly any subject. In fact, SEL often makes teaching core instruction easier because when students have strong social and emotional competence, they are more engaged, motivated, and ready to learn.

It’s easy to teach SEL in your core instruction! Here are 10 activities and lesson ideas–organized by subject area and grade level–to get you started.…Read More

4 reasons to rethink middle school math acceleration practices

As the pandemic continues to impact another school year, a lot of focus has been on “accelerating learning,” which is about maintaining on-grade level instruction or infusing pre-requisite skills in the instruction so students can access on-grade level instruction.

There is another way the term “acceleration” can be used in math, however, and that pertains to moving students beyond grade-level instruction. Sometimes 5th grade students are accelerated into 7th grade math, or 8th grade students are accelerated into Algebra 1.

Research shows this is not optimal for many students and is oftentimes detrimental when students are inappropriately accelerated. Given this research, as well as the effects of the pandemic, the current practices of this acceleration need to be re-examined as some students may have gaps in learning which will be exacerbated through an aggressive acceleration program.…Read More