What are your reasons to celebrate this school year?

We can all agree that the challenges we’ve seen in the last two years are unprecedented. However, when we consider all that’s happened and all that we’ve learned, there is also much to celebrate.

We can celebrate because students are back in school. We can celebrate the fact that libraries and librarians are in the spotlight. We can celebrate the fact superintendents no longer have to moonlight as meteorologists to call a snow day because we can deliver instruction virtually. 

We can’t forget specific challenges and controversies, though—we’ve argued about masks, vaccines, and books. Teachers are leaving the profession. Librarians are facing criminal consequences over their collections. District leaders are attempting to navigate an increasingly political landscape where it’s becoming nearly impossible to please everyone. …Read More

Whole child learning paves a path to success, teachers say

An overwhelming majority of educators polled in a new survey say they believe students achieve success when schools make whole child learning a priority.

Ninety-one percent of teachers participating in education nonprofit Gradient Learning’s national survey, say they believe students perform better when schools prioritize whole child learning.

Conducted in partnership with Project Tomorrow, the Gradient Learning Poll surveyed 1,418 teachers, of grades 4-12, across the country to better understand their views on the state of education. …Read More

How to build relationships with instructional coaches

Teaching at any level can often be a solitary occupation. Even with a classroom full of students, teachers often work in isolation from peers. Teachers rarely receive instruction on how to work with co-teachers or teacher assistants in their pre-service teacher education programs. Therefore, it is often difficult or awkward for teachers to ask for help or effectively collaborate with others. Instructors often don’t know how to accept help from the instructional coaches, even when they would like to.

Educational practice is shifting from isolating practice to collaborative efforts, and creating healthy and productive team dynamics is often a challenge. Instructional coaches can positively impact these relationships, but the trust must be in place for it to occur. Even in systems where working with a coach is expected, building those initial relationships can be challenging.

Instructional coaches, instructional designers, and even assigned co-teachers often struggle to establish working relationships with individual classroom teachers. Librarians regularly complain that they spend more time clearing jams from printers instead of assisting students with reference questions. However, clearing that paper jam can help the student see the librarian as a resource. In the same way, the instructional designer might start to build a relationship by helping an instructor properly format hanging indents for a research paper. One instructional coach started building a positive relationship by making copies for classroom teacher. Just like the proverbial salesman who had to get a foot in the door, sometimes the first step is a small one.…Read More

VHS Learning’s New Flexible Courses Expand Student Options for Online Course Enrollment

Boston – May 12, 2022 – Scheduling flexibility is frequently cited by students and teachers as a major benefit of working with VHS Learning’s asynchronous online courses. Starting in August, students will be able to take advantage of an even more flexibly paced course format.

The new Flexible course model will be available for 16 courses beginning in the 2022-2023 academic year:

  • Algebra 1 Flexible
  • AP® Calculus AB Flexible
  • AP® Calculus BC Flexible
  • AP® Computer Science Principles Flexible
  • AP® Environmental Science Flexible
  • AP® Macroeconomics Flexible
  • AP® Microeconomics Flexible
  • AP® Music Theory Flexible
  • AP® Physics 1 Flexible
  • AP® Spanish Language and Culture Flexible
  • AP® Statistics Flexible
  • AP® United States Government Flexible
  • AP® United States History Flexible
  • English 9 Flexible
  • English 11 Flexible
  • Spanish 1 Flexible

Each Flexible course is self-paced, and teacher led. Courses begin on the first of every month from August through February (August through December for AP® courses). The courses will end at the completion of the school year, so later enrollees will progress through course material at a faster pace.…Read More

Will gamification replace paper tests?

Nearly everyone remembers the stress of taking a test in school. In-class exams have the power to make even the most dedicated of students quake with fear, not to mention the damage they can do to the egos of struggling learners. For some students, the stress causes their minds to go blank, while others experience physical symptoms like headaches and nausea.

In fact, around 40 percent of students regularly report experiencing moderate to severe anxiety over tests. Unfortunately, that stress isn’t limited to students in higher grades. Even elementary school students can struggle with fear and performance anxiety on standardized tests. No surprise, then, that teachers and schools are increasingly rethinking their assessment methods, seeking ways to evaluate student performance without causing undue stress.

Fortunately, there are other methods of assessing students–methods that greatly reduce anxiety levels while simultaneously improving performance. One method getting a lot of attention is gamification, which involves incorporating elements of game playing, such as establishing ground rules, scorekeeping, and engaging in friendly competition with other students. Recent studies have shown that gamification in education can increase assessment scores by nearly 15 percent.…Read More

Can we measure personalized learning’s impact?

Personalized learning offers myriad possibilities for teachers and students. And in the wake of the pandemic, as educators try to manage learning gaps, individualized learning is more critical than ever.

New edtech developments have helped these learning techniques become more efficient, scalable, and achievable for educators over the last decade. While many strategies were forced to take a back seat to more pressing challenges during the pandemic, and now it’s time to turn our attention to a more individual form of learning once again.

Join eSchool News and a panel of experts to explore what personalized learning looks like now and what’s to come. You’ll hear these experts share best practices, and you’ll learn why assessment and accountability are more important than ever in today’s K-12 landscape.…Read More

How the COVID-19 pandemic changed how I teach

Ed Smylie is my hero. You may not recognize the name, but you probably remember that scene in Apollo 13 when, upon discovering the spacecraft’s lethally rising CO2 levels and the dilemma of mismatched equipment, flight director Gene Kranz commands his team to “invent a way to put a square peg into a round hole. Rapidly.” Engineer Ed Smylie led the way in an all-night race to do just that. Using nothing but the materials on hand, his quick thinking and adaptability saved the astronauts’ lives.

Spring 2020 required teachers to become Ed Smylie. Nearly every tool we normally used to reach our students was wiped off the table–we were left in complete upheaval. With no choice but to use whatever we had available, we dug deep into our resourcefulness to help our students (and ourselves!) survive distance learning. Amazingly, what we did served our purposes not only for the duration of remote learning, but changed our classroom practices for the better, even now with students back in the classroom.

Once the initial lockdown passed, my district allowed staff to teach from their classrooms (albeit empty ones), pushing us to find new methods of instruction. Just days before the shutdown, a new flat panel had been installed in my room; it seemed to be the perfect time to see what it could do.…Read More

How stressed teachers can find time to reset

A teacher’s work is never done. Seriously, it’s amazing how much responsibility educators manage to shoulder throughout the week. From planning and delivering lessons, to grading, to attending professional development and networking with concerned parents, it’s no surprise a lot of teachers are feeling stretched thin.

It also doesn’t help that our culture pressures people to sacrifice well-being in the name of success. The message we frequently hear is, “If you’re not seeing the results, you’re not working hard enough!

In reality, teachers who don’t take time to rest and reenergize are usually less productive than ones who do. Think of it like the woodcutter who always takes an hour to sharpen his axe. Without that time of rest and preparation, he’d be trying to split wood with a dulled, useless blade. The same holds true for teachers. …Read More

Why we should let online elementary students lead

The role of elementary teachers has never been more important, especially as kindergarten through fifth grade students today are facing more change than ever before–from the effects of the pandemic to social media and stressful current events being right at their fingertips.

According to The Annie E. Casey Foundation, the annual average learning gain for Kindergarten through second grade students is higher than at any time during a child’s years in school. This is why we both decided to become elementary school teachers–to make a positive impact in children’s lives during such a critical time of development and growth.

While it is essential for students to understand and master their learning in elementary school, it is also important that students develop confidence, feel ownership over their work, and become passionate about learning. If you can excite elementary students about learning, it can set them up for success not only throughout their entire education, but also their life.…Read More

How human connection calms teacher burnout

The power of human connection is a transformative element that is deeply wired into our collective DNA. With so many teachers experiencing burnout, I can’t help but recognize a strong link between human connection and the challenges facing teachers today.

Teachers care immensely for their students and cherish the in-person connection that exists in the classroom. But the stresses of the job are taking them away from connecting with students more meaningfully. Teachers feel exhausted and underappreciated, causing them to consider leaving their jobs altogether. A recent National Education Association survey found that “55% of educators are thinking about leaving the profession earlier than they had planned.”

While the NEA survey identifies staffing shortages and emotional fatigue as contributing factors, it also mentions that educators are requesting more mental support for their students than is presently available.…Read More