I’m a teacher, but I was also “that student”

This fall, I will return to the classroom for my second year teaching English at Philadelphia’s Excel Academy South, an accelerated high school experience for students seeking a smaller, more personal setting, intensely focused on elevating social skills, emotional wellness, and academic success. 

My colleagues and I are committed to helping students succeed by developing meaningful relationships with each of them, therefore understanding their individual needs, challenges, and strengths. When students feel safe and valued, they become empowered to take charge of their education and future. They begin to fulfill their learning potential. 

It was during my interview with the director and two other administrators at Excel Academy South that I recognized something deeply familiar in so many of their students: It was my younger self. …Read More

Why teach digital writing to students in 2022?

The internet has changed writing forever.

Have you ever thought of your students alongside Hemingway, Shakespeare, and other well-known writers? They are actually: All their messages, blogs, and social media posts go online today, together with novels, poems, or stories of professional writers.

Now they write more than speak. Online communication calls the shots, and Gen Z doesn’t perceive informative writing as we did 20 or 30 years ago.…Read More

Teachers Know Students Need Social Emotional Learning, Face Challenges Delivering Support, According to New Survey From ReadTheory

WILMINGTON, DE – August 4, 2022 –   A new survey reveals that while teachers know their students need help developing social emotional skills, they rarely have time or adequate training to focus on them in the classroom. ReadTheory, an edtech company that helps students build reading comprehension skills, announced the findings of its new survey of nearly 1,700 teachers to get their insights into the challenges of implementing social emotional learning (SEL) programs in today’s tumultuous educational environment.

In the wake of the disruption of the pandemic, U.S. students are struggling. In 2021, the Center for Disease Control revealed that 37 percent of high school students reported poor mental health during the pandemic, while 44 percent said they persistently felt sad or hopeless during the past year. And with billions of dollars in federal ESSER funds available, schools are investing in SEL programs to help students  – and teachers – cope. According to Simba Information, spending for SEL instructional materials was $1.725 billion for the 2021-2022 school year. 

Yet, while 63 percent of teachers responding to ReadTheory’s survey believe mental wellness throughout the pandemic adversely affected instruction, a third reported they rarely or never teach SEL skills. Lack of time in the school day and lack of support from school leadership are among the challenges teachers said they faced when attempting to implement SEL.…Read More

Whitney Brothers® Nature View Writing Center Earns Platinum Spaces4Learning 2022 New Product Award

Keene, NH, July 29, 2022 – Acclaimed Early Learning furniture brand Whitney Brothers® today announced its new Nature View Writing Center received the Platinum 2022 Spaces4Learning New Product Award, one of the most widely recognized awards for product innovation in the educational products market.

The inventive design of the Nature View Writing Center accommodates social distancing and activity workspace in Early Learning environments, a nod to the impact of covid-19 on student desk design. The vibrant woodland scene on the desk’s clear back panel brings the calm of nature indoors and creates a comforting personalized activity space for young children that also provides important visibility for adult supervision. Notably, the 2022 award marks the company’s third consecutive win and fourth in the last six years, vaulting it to the level of a few select brands.

Now in its seventh year, the Spaces4Learning New Product Award program honors manufacturers and suppliers whose products or services are judged for their ability to enhance learning environments. The contest judges are members of the publication’s Editorial Advisory Board, a panel of executives and professionals from leading industry vendors, industry associations, and architecture firms.…Read More

Build ‘beyond the game’ for max esports impact

When we started the Orange County High School Esports League as a pilot program in January 2018, there was a lot of skepticism about bringing esports into schools and into classrooms. Based on successes that included increased student engagement and positive classroom and social developments, we expanded to form NASEF, the nonprofit North America Scholastic Esports Federation. There are many school-based esports tournament programs or lesson plans out there, but we emphasize true scholastic esports: intentional learning intertwined with gameplay, whether in the classroom or in an out-of-school program.

NASEF now falls under the even larger umbrella of the World Wide Scholastic Esports Foundation, underscoring a huge attitude shift as educators around the world embrace the concept. That is not to say that there aren’t a few that still need convincing, but most progressive educators are now eager to adopt programs like NASEF’s that are so engaging for students and build both social-emotional and career skills.

These positive outcomes have always been the goal. NASEF’s mission is “to provide opportunities for ALL students to use esports as a platform to acquire critical communication, collaboration, and problem-solving skills needed to thrive in work and in life.” Its vision is “to ensure that ALL students possess the knowledge and skills needed to be society’s game changers: educated, productive, and empathetic individuals.”…Read More

Ripple Effects, Leader in Social Emotional Learning, Announces New Chief Executive Officer John Ray-Keil

NEW ORLEANS – June 27, 2022 – Today, Ripple Effects, a leader in digital social emotional learning (SEL), mental health and behavior supports, announced the appointment of John Ray-Keil as its new CEO. Ray-Keil succeeds co-founder, Alice Ray, who will become chair of the board.

Prior to joining Ripple Effects in 2019, Ray-Keil served as CFO of BlueFoot Partners, an investment firm. He has more than 20 years of experience growing small companies and optimizing portfolio management. Ray-Keil also served on the boards of numerous local youth and school organizations and is an advocate for advancing scalable solutions in the education market.

“John’s deep experience and success in the financial sector coupled with his commitment to delivering the best digital content to help PreK-12 students receive the social emotional supports they need uniquely position him as the right person to move the company forward,” said Alice Ray, chair of Ripple Effects board of directors.…Read More

Educators are turning yoga into a vehicle for school and community change

After a tumultuous few years teaching during a pandemic, some educators are embarking on a unique approach to social and emotional learning (SEL) training this summer: They’re pursuing a virtual wellness, SEL, and yoga training course.

Graduates of Breathe For Change’s 200-hour program will be certified to teach inclusive yoga classes to both adults and young people and lead SEL and wellness experiences in their schools, districts, and organizations.

“Our whole approach is a community-wide wellness approach–the home-school connection matters deeply,” said Dr. Ilana Nankin, Breathe For Change’s founder and CEO.…Read More

Are teachers in your district spending more time on SEL?

More than 80 percent of teachers say they are spending more time than ever on social-emotional learning (SEL), according to a new survey.

Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT) released its State of Education May 2022 Report, which surveyed over 2,000 U.S. educators to understand their perspectives on the state of students’ well-being and social-emotional health, the ways in which schools are handling these needs, the role of social-emotional learning (SEL) in the classroom, and the overall health of the teaching profession. 

Key findings from the State of Education May 2022 Report include:…Read More

4 engaging strategies that promote student SEL

In 2020, the World Economic Forum released a list of the most sought-after skills for the jobs of tomorrow. Among them were a number of surprising entries such as creativity, coordinating with others, emotional intelligence, and service orientation. At least, they were surprising if you weren’t an educator. For those of us who spent the last year teaching through a pandemic, the necessity of social-emotional learning (SEL) has been only too apparent. After all, what good is a knowledge of STEM if you don’t have the ability to recognize and manage your own emotions?       

As educators, we know all too well how important social-emotional learning is to a student’s overall development. Science, math, and reading are vital subjects, but empathy, self-awareness, and responsible-decision-making are what allow someone to apply those subjects in ways that make the world a better place.

But with so many standards and subjects competing for our attention, how do we make space for effective SEL in the classroom? Well, it starts with the right activities. Here are just a few engaging lessons that can make a huge impact on students’ emotional growth:…Read More

3 key steps when using VR in education

As new VR technologies emerge, educators at all levels are finding new applications to augment the classroom experience – and for good reason. VR allows educators to move past pages in a textbook to create totally immersive experiences that stimulate and inspire students.

Imagine a social studies teacher leading a discussion about the Taj Mahal, for example. While educators and students used to be bound to traditional experiences like books, handouts, or PowerPoint presentations–now they can use the power of VR to take virtual tours of the monument, walking from space to space and seeing every detail of the carved stone.

The applications for VR in education are truly endless and open up an entirely new way of learning–with lesson formats that can literally bring students back in time for history class or transport them to different galaxies for science.…Read More