resources

‘Can I Survive This First?’: Teaching and Learning During COVID-19

In a recent Zoom staff meeting, my principal asked five staff members to share the ways they’ve reached out to students. One teacher shared that he’d sent out a journal activity to his students, and one replied, “Can I survive this first?” That comment sparked a conversation about this historic moment and the kinds of stressors, pressures, fears, and anxieties students, families, and communities are presently feeling. (more…)

My Letter to Families: ‘We Will Get Through This’

Leaving school last Friday, I’m not sure that any of us knew what to expect. I know as I leave tonight, for the last time for a while, I’m feeling similar emotions. Tuesday was our last day with kids, Wednesday with staff. Our building will be shut down beginning this Friday afternoon. It’s surreal. (more…)

The Learning Commons: A 21st Century Research and Technology Center

I can admit it now; I was probably the wrong man for the job.

As building principal, I knew that we needed to redesign and reinvent the space we called our library media center. We had a pretty obvious problem in there—students and teachers were not really using it. This large space situated in the center of our school had been remodeled several times—it used to be the library and before that it was actually the cafeteria. I added some fresh paint, new carpeting, new furniture, and bought some new books—popular young adult fiction and non-fiction. There were a handful of desktop computers and a SMART Board. Despite these superficial upgrades to the learning environment, it was still essentially a warehouse for a mostly-dated print collection and still largely unused. (more…)

Three Ways to Leverage Technology and Build School Happiness

With a career in education spanning over 23 years and 11 children of my own, I have come to respect and recognize that happiness is paramount in education. Unhappy high-achieving students have similar struggles to their unhappy underachieving peers as they navigate through life after high school. Yet happy children (and adults) are more productive, healthy and successful. They earn more money, live longer, get and stay married longer—and yes, achieve more. Educationalist and philosopher Nel Noddings sums up happiness best for me when she says, “Happy people are rarely mean, violent or cruel.” Let’s fill our schools (and homes) with opportunities for our students and adults to be happier and healthier. Here’s how we can use technology to maximize our efforts. (more…)

Podcasts: 57 Channels and Nothin’ On?

Guest post by Nicholas Indeglio

Back in the 90s, the influx of cable television channels gave viewers a menu of options. However, while the quantity of channels was plentiful, it didn’t speak to the quality and did not target consumers. As Bruce Springsteen sang, “There was 57 channels and nothin’ on.” (more…)

Whom to Follow: A Training Plan for Twitter Success, Part Two

Guest post by Nicholas Indeglio

In my previous post, I shared tips on getting started with Twitter through hashtags and chats. The focus of this post is to help you build your personal network by learning which education rock stars you should follow on the platform. (more…)

Hashtags & Chats: A Training Plan for Twitter Success, Part One

Guest post by Nicholas Indeglio

Before the emergence of the World Wide Web, competitive endurance athletes relied on magazine ads to find like-minded locals to train with, to compete against, and to engage as a race crew. The internet broadened that scope globally and now platforms like Strava, Zwift, and MapMyFitness provide slick user interfaces which allow athletes to connect virtually through shared workouts, weekly challenges, diet and nutrition, comment areas, and more. A whole new world of connectivity has emerged. Fortunately, similar networks exist for school leaders and the most powerful one is absolutely free. (more…)

Moving from Analysis to Action—Building Capacity through Conversation

Guest post by David Johns

Numerous tools exist to help Professional Learning Communities (PLC) grow. There are checklists to ensure that the right roles are assigned. There are accountability documents to ensure that teams meet on time and in a common location. There are even the four timeless guiding questions from Rick DuFour to keep PLCs focused on the work of improving achievement. So why then do most PLC conversations stall out once we’ve looked at student work? Why don’t we turn our attention to actions we need to take as educators to address what we see? (more…)

Fostering an Environment for Teacher Growth

Guest post by Michele Paine

An area of passion for me as a school leader involves facilitating teacher growth. One way I work on this is by hosting several professional book studies during the school year.

Our district pays teachers for two days of flexible professional development time each contract year. Teachers can choose from a variety of options, including conferences, regional training, and state-led events. With all of these choices, however, I feel it is important to foster collegial discussion and professional reading. (more…)

How Educators Can Support Grieving Students Through Learning

Concentration and learning difficulties are extremely common for people dealing with grief. This is true for adults, as well as children. However, because learning is the main work of school-aged children and teens, these common challenges pose a risk of serious academic problems.

As one grieving student explained, “It was hard because I couldn’t concentrate on my work. If I was reading, I would read the words, but I wouldn’t read the story. I would think about something else … .”

That reflects some of the typical experiences of grieving students. (more…)