Happy Holidays! Here Are a Few Little Gifts from Us You Might Have Missed

Happy Holidays! You deserve all the rest and relaxation that comes with the winter break. I hope that’s happening for you! These months of school have been indescribable, but I can say for certain they’ve been challenging for each and every educator across Alabama.

Yet, there’s real hope on the horizon, and whatever may come in late winter and spring, you know the Best Practices Center will be here to partner with you and your colleagues as you support and educate the fortunate children, tweens, and teens in your care.

Our final blog of the year is not quite a “Best of. . .” post, but it’s something like that. We know how busy you’ve been, and we wouldn’t be surprised if you missed a few of these posts from the past few months. Please don’t feel obligated to read them, but if you find yourself a little restless – as educators often do before the ‘restart’ – maybe you’ll find an idea or bit of inspiration.

You inspire us!


The Future of Education in Alabama Will Be Brighter If We Embrace the Lessons of This Challenging Year

September 15, 2020

The great challenges of 2020 do come with a silver lining. “The best performing education systems have become nimble, responsive, resilient,” says a new OECD report on global education trends. What can we do to encourage more Alabama school systems to match this description, wonders Cathy Gassenheimer. “Maybe one answer is to embrace what we are learning as all of us live through this pandemic.”

The A+ Parent Portal Is a New Resource for Families, Caregivers and Schools

September 29, 2020

A+ Education Partnership works to ensure great schools for every child. In the era of COVID-19, we want to ensure that a great school experience extends beyond the brick and mortar school to the living room. Dr. Matt Smith, Vice President for Policy, introduces the new A+ Parent Portal, offering families and caregivers quick access to help for guidance and decision making, at-home learning support, and coping and well-being.

Tasha Eurich: 3 Scientifically Supported Strategies to Beat Burnout

October 23, 2020

A recent message from psychologist and author Dr. Tasha Eurich gave Cathy Gassenheimer such a lift that she wanted to share it with others who might be feeling what Tasha says she’s observing so much right now – severe burnout. Read her three self-care strategies and explore the research behind each one. Define boundaries. Engineer recovery. Seek and give support.

One Aha and Two Truths  about School Leadership

DeAnna Miller December 1, 2020

For the past several years Enterprise City AP DeAnna Miller has been on a leadership journey. “I’ve read countless books about leadership, scoured online reading material, watched videos, joined Facebook groups and Twitter chats, all with one goal in mind – to be a ‘good’ leader.” During her journey, Miller has discovered “one profound a-ha and two recurring truths” which she believes will help her be both a lead learner and a lead teacher.

New Lessons I’m Learning about How the Brain Really Works

Cathy Gassenheimer December 8, 2020

Many educators have found the “upstairs, downstairs” analogy of how the human brain functions helpful in working with social-emotional learning. In her own life, writes Cathy Gassenheimer, the concept has been useful in keeping her grounded and focused in stressful times. New brain research is now challenging the idea of the “three-part brain,” with one part dedicated to survival behavior. Is it time to abandon the “upstairs” idea?

Our Students Can’t Wait: SEL Anytime, Anywhere

Dr. Stoney Beavers December 15, 2020

It’s rare that we really push ourselves to learn a new skill without an immediate need for it, writes Stoney Beavers. “We work hardest on something when the necessity is squarely in front of us.” Right now that urgent necessity is effective support for students’ social and emotional learning. “The tire is flat,” he says, and a new book from Corwin has tools we need to integrate SEL into virtual, blended, or in-person environments.