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The Alabama Best Practices Center works to help teachers and district & school leaders develop the competence, commitment, and courage to do whatever it takes to improve student learning.

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Professional Learning Blog

Active Listening Is a Critical Tool for Educators. Here’s How to Sharpen It!

Active listening is a critical skill for teachers, administrators, coaches, parents – everyone! And just like developing any craft, active listening requires intentionality and the ability to turn off that inner “here’s what I know” voice that seems to be ever present in our mind. Cathy Gassenheimer shares five big take-aways from the new book “Listen Like You Mean It.”

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How We Can Avoid the Trap of High Conflict and Open the Door to Understanding

Like many of us, author Amanda Ripley noticed the growing strife emerging in American culture and wanted to better understand why people – and sometimes even whole communities – find themselves involved in conflicts that become quite ugly. Her curiosity and wide-ranging study produced the new book High Conflict: Why We Get Trapped and How We Get Out. Cathy Gassenheimer shares highlights.

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Our Students Will Thrive If We #OverEstimateKids (The Sequel – One Year Later)

In 2020 Jeremy VanEgmond began promoting a cause close to his heart – the need to “overestimate” what kids can do by encouraging them to pursue their passionate interests and make a difference in the world. The Pike Road Elementary assistant principal, who first wrote about his #OverestimateKids campaign for us last year, follows up with specific actions educators and parents can take to help create “shining moments where kids make connections we never gave them a chance to make before.”

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What’s In a Name? A New Study Finds Many Parents Prefer ‘Life Skills’ to ‘SEL’

Whether we call it SEL or Life Skills or something else, writes Cathy Gassenheimer, schools have always had a role in preparing the next generation for success in the adult world of college, careers, the workplace and citizenship. In a functioning democracy, school systems supported by the public will always need to provide a well-balanced mix of academics and skills for living that support an open and resilient society.

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