How we built a whole-child, wraparound approach to special education

At the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning at Ulster Board of Cooperative Education Services (BOCES), we have developed the architecture to accomplish and codify a leadership approach to help schools consider how to reach our most marginalized and vulnerable students.

Four years ago, my team and I designed, planned, and implemented a research-based, whole-child wraparound approach to special education. To get our initial pilot off the ground, we brought in stakeholders from across our organization: teachers, teaching assistants (TAs), aides, counselors, occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech language pathologists, positive intervention team members, administrators, and the wider community, along with content area experts through our instructional services.

The pilot grew from five classrooms into a full-school implementation in the second year due to the county’s demand and the success of the program. We recently had the honor of presenting our model to stakeholders from across the country at AESA’s most recent conference.…Read More

3 innovative ways to help teachers feel engaged and valued

As research reveals that relational trust leads to engagement and success, we are reminded that teachers hold our students’ stories and hopes—and here’s how school leaders can lay the foundation for relational trust so that school communities flourish.

In school environments, intellectual growth and community are treasured as exciting pieces of the work that teachers build.  Relationships are critical to everyone in an institution.  Working with people—in addition to working with the technology or materials or curriculum—means that cooperative interactions occur daily.

Because administrators, policy-makers, students, parents, and community members all play key roles in how society values the work of teachers, positive interactions become critical.  For this reason, relational trust is a key factor within the learning environment to have engagement and success (Bryk & Schneider, 2002; Bryk et al., 2009).  Relationships are unique and take time to build.  The impact of healthy environments can empower each individual into making authentic efforts, putting in the rigor/practice, and achieving goals.  Keeping teachers engaged and valued, indeed, becomes the most critical aspect of society in order to develop the next generation of educated citizens.…Read More

3 ways teachers can drive student growth

When I ask educators if they have heard of the term “growth mindset,” many will raise their hands or nod they have. However, when I ask educators to define what it means to have a growth mindset, I often get blank stares or they struggle with putting it into words. 

This is one of the issues educators might be struggling with – well-researched concepts like growth mindset sound familiar, but there is little guidance on putting these concepts into practice.

If we are to truly close educational gaps, educators must believe in and must be empowered to make a difference and put a plan in place to support student success.…Read More

5 ways virtual tutoring reinforces our after-school program

We’ve been working to reinforce and reinvigorate our after-school program with the goal of reaching more students who need it. Staffing shortages and not enough hours in the day have made it difficult for us to achieve this goal, but when we started using the FEV Tutor live, 1:1 virtual tutoring platform we realized that we had discovered the missing piece of our puzzle.

At the time, we were really ramping up our summer program and trying to create as much programming as possible for it beforehand. One of the sites integrated the virtual tutoring into its program for four weeks and we received good feedback from the staff, teachers, and students.

We took those results and ran with them, rolling the online tutoring platform out across all 21 of our school sites with a goal of reaching about 2,500 students in grades 3-8. We offer the tutoring in 45-minute, dedicated blocks of time and alternate between math and reading.…Read More

3 ways to make inflation interesting for students

Inflation hit a four-decade high in the United States during September, with the consumer price index up 8.2 percent from a year earlier. While most adults are painfully aware of higher prices for everything from food to fuel, teens may be blissfully ignorant.

There are a few reasons inflation may not feel relevant to teens. If teens aren’t yet working and earning their own money, they’re buying things with their parent’s funds. The cure for inflation is simply to ask mom or dad for more money. Working teens will definitely be feeling the burn of increased prices, but their time horizon tends to be focused on today versus how inflation will impact them decades down the road.

Storytelling can be an effective way for teachers to make topics like inflation relevant to students. Storytelling makes abstract concepts come to life and can help students envision themselves in the story.…Read More