Paraprofessionals: The unsung heroes of the classroom

Staffing shortages continue to impact schools across the U.S., and vacancies are an increasingly common occurrence. Parents’ minds often jump first to teacher shortages, with significant numbers of teachers leaving schools in 2022 in search of less stressful work. But another essential role in schools is facing an equally urgent staffing crisis: paraprofessionals.

Paraprofessionals, also referred to as classroom aides or a primary support person (PSP), are the glue in the school day, supporting teachers in monitoring classroom activities and ensuring that all students are where they need to be. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there are greater than a million aides working in K-12 schools nationwide, with a meaningful subset focused on supporting special education delivery.

Paraprofessionals are particularly essential in special education. They’re an integral part of a team, working closely with clinicians—speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, school psychologists—and students, both one-on-one and in small groups. They play a critical role in assisting the evaluation process on the student side, they document student behavior, and support assistive devices. In some circumstances, they may act as an extension of the hands of the clinician, helping to guide the student in various tasks.…Read More

A teacher’s tips for effective edtech integration

It’s clear that technology isn’t going anywhere and will become an integral part of students’ educational futures. Being able to effectively utilize technology in the classroom is no small task for the classroom teachers. Integrating technology into the classroom isn’t simply transferring a worksheet into a virtual format–rather, it involves using technology to enhance lessons and enable the students to showcase their content mastery in a variety of ways.

The National Center for Education Statistics said it well: “Integrating technology is what comes next after making the technology available and accessible. It is a goal-in-process, not an end state.”

The first thing that needs to be done in order to successfully integrate technology in the classroom has to be instructing/training teachers to do so. Having professional development sessions offered yearly and up to date with the ever-changing tech tools that schools are offered would be something that every teacher could benefit from. Students, as a result, will reap the benefits of their teachers’ pedagogical tech skills. Teachers should also start utilizing the International Society for Technology in Education standards in their lessons regularly as they help focus the lessons to build on students’ competencies with technology.…Read More

Why self-discovery increases college and career success

What do you want to be when you grow up? As we get older, the answer often changes from highly visible and glamorous endeavors, such as being an actor or a rockstar, to something more useful and meaningful to us personally.

Determining a great career path, however, isn’t always easy and is more often than not inhibited by a lack of exposure to career options and awareness of our own natural abilities. Yet, in order to secure the right educational pathway, students are asked to make a decision as early as high school and sometimes even middle school. 

Statistics show that over the course of a person’s lifetime, they will work an average of 90,000 hours. That’s a lot of time. Time that, if not mapped out properly, can be costly and less than satisfying. So how does a high school-aged student choose a career path at such a young age? What are the steps students need to take to pick a fulfilling profession? …Read More

No, it’s not “the end of going to college”

According to data from National Student Clearinghouse, undergraduate enrollment declined by nearly 3 percent this spring, following a similar drop last fall. These statistics have inspired dire headlines such as “Higher Ed in Crisis” and even “The End of the University,” but the truth is more nuanced. While college admissions may be down at most universities overall, graduate school enrollments are up significantly. 

It makes sense that, in a time when medical professionals are very much in the limelight, there has been greater demand for healthcare and nursing education. However, even in a time of deep concern about undergraduate enrollments, many providers have also seen increases for SAT and ACT products.

This says to me that, despite the disruptions of the past year, motivated students are still taking an active role in their own education and looking to differentiate themselves. …Read More

5 reasons to not pass on password protection

For many of us, not a day goes by that we aren’t logging into an account for various tasks, entertainment, or work. As such, we’ve all heard stories of failed password protection…the cousin who had their bank account emptied after their account was accessed or the friend who had their data stolen from a company-wide hack. 

Beyond the stories we share, recent statistics tell an even more compelling story in favor of strong passwords. Here’s how: according to recent studies, 81 percent of breaches at companies or organizations leveraged stolen or weak passwords (2020 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report) and one million passwords are stolen every week (2019 Breach Alarm). 

Although no password is uncrackable, increasing the complexity of the password can make the process more difficult and has proven an effective method for dissuading hackers, ultimately keeping your accounts and information protected. Check out these five tips to inform a more secure password strategy:…Read More

Making mental health checks during remote learning

According to a 2019 survey from the Centers for Disease Control, approximately one in five youths reported they’d seriously considered attempting suicide within the last year, while one in six had actually made a suicide plan, and one in 11 had made an attempt. Since the pandemic began, things have only gotten worse. In 2020 Mental Health America reported an uptick in severe major depression and suicidal ideation among youth. It noted in September 2020 that more than half of 11- to 17-year-olds reported they had experienced frequent thoughts of suicide or self-harm in the last two weeks. Other statistics are equally alarming.

Simply put, this pandemic has pushed stress levels of many youth to the breaking point. There are many contributing factors, such as isolation from peers, concern about loved ones getting sick, family financial issues such as job losses, and stress from navigating distance learning.

Then there are the situations in which child abuse and exploitation occur. During the early months of the pandemic, for example, child abuse complaints dropped, sometimes by as much as 50 percent. That’s not because abuse and exploitation issues were down. Just the opposite–the abuse was unreported because it wasn’t being seen by those who would typically catch it.…Read More

5 ways to integrate ELL instruction into teaching and learning

As a curriculum and learning specialist at an elementary school in Verona, Wisconsin, l have the opportunity to work with amazing educators and students of all cultures; as a prior bilingual resource and two-way immersion Spanish teacher, I like to honor the language learners in our classrooms.

I work with all teachers and all students. I help teachers find resources to help support their curriculum and often that entails helping them find new ways to include their English Language Learners in their lessons. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, an average of 9 percent of students in U.S. public schools are English Language Learners (ELLs); that number is closer to 14 percent in cities.

Here are five ways you can integrate ELL instruction into teaching and learning. These are simple strategies and some resources that are not very time-consuming, and best of all, they will help all the students in your class feel included and able to access the curriculum.…Read More

Personalized, Peer-To-Peer Tutoring and Flexible Jobs for Students

Few groups were hit as hard by the pandemic as our nation’s youth. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, COVID-19 disrupted an estimated 56.4 million K-12 students’ studies, and another 19.7 million U.S. college students felt its negative impact. Countless young adults lost or were unable to secure critical part-time jobs. Now, Knoyo Tutoring has launched, with an innovative concept that offers personalized tutoring from college honor students to students of all ages in a supportive, stress-free community. The company was created by a diverse team of 18 college students in collaboration with The National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS), a student-centric honors and scholarship organization. Knoyo’s mission is to provide students with a pressure-free environment where they can learn, share experiences and knowledge, and navigate their world with confidence.

“Overnight, COVID-19 turned students’ lives upside down. The abrupt switch to online learning created massive academic setbacks and students needed help,” said Knoyo President James Lewis. “We moved quickly to convene a team of outstanding college students who worked with us to create a relevant, contemporary tutoring service centered on a relationship-driven student experience. It also meets an economic need by offering a flexible source of income for college students who tutor through the program.”

Knoyo is a 24/7 virtual tutoring platform and community that’s different from other tutoring services in a number of important ways. First, it lets students chose the tutor that best fits their needs based on subject matter expertise, college, and common interests. Knoyo goes beyond offering test prep to providing help with homework, raising students’ GPAs, and supporting them in the college application process. Tutors come from a wide range of universities, from junior colleges to the Ivy League, ensuring there’s a match for every student. Tutors can set their own schedules and rates, and sessions are coordinated on the Knoyo platform.…Read More

Tampa Middle School Receives the Superstar Treatment with Ashly Audio-Backed System

Sligh Middle Magnet School in Tampa, Florida has an audio system worthy of a superstar performance thanks to professional wrestler Thaddeus Bullard’s charitable organization, the Bullard Family Foundation.

Bullard’s foundation supports programs that provide opportunities to those in struggling communities to achieve more than what statistics might imply of them. His website states that he avoided the reach of statistics because teachers and local leaders took an interest in his success and “his community began investing in him.”

Now it’s Bullard who is investing in the community, and a critical part of that outreach sees him supporting schools. Thus, thanks to funding from The Bullard Family Foundation, Sligh Middle Magnet School – a premier Medical Studies and Explorations program in Hillsborough County Public Schools – now has one of the most impressive audio setups in the Tampa area located in its gymnasium. And at the heart of the installation is Ashly Audio.…Read More

5 tips to build academic integrity

The importance of academic integrity can’t be underestimated, especially when it comes to blended learning. And these aren’t just words. Statistics show there was a 68 percent increase in the number of integrity violations reported in 2019-2020 compared with 2018-2019.

With the rise of digital innovation, distance learning technology has become an integral part of blended learning – an approach that integrates technology and digital media with traditional instructor-led classroom activities. It also made academic integrity a significant point of concern. Students are now expected to possess an increased degree of autonomy – probably the highest in history, which might nudge them toward cheating.

Related content: 4 best practices for remote testing…Read More