In the COVID-19 pandemic era, paying attention to the whole child – including children’s social-emotional learning needs – has never been more urgent. Dr. Holly Morgan shares some of the work school teams in the PCN West professional learning network are doing to assure a school culture of safety, support and self-reliance that will help every child not only fly but soar.
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Educators pride ourselves on making daily connections with our students, writes Jennifer Hutchison. When we found ourselves in virtual spaces, “our driving question became, how do I connect with a tiny green dot, with students who have their cameras turned off and who may or may not be sitting in the same room with their computer?” Hutchison, a veteran science teacher and PD specialist for Hudson-Alpha, shares some discoveries she made about effective engagement “in the ether.”
“As an African American educator,” writes Dieatra Howie, A+ College Ready’s Social Studies Content Director, “I am proud of the rich heritage that we possess, and I encourage educators to embrace the opportunity afforded to them to make a difference in the lives of their students. The lessons that are taught this month and beyond can change the trajectory of an individual student’s life.”
When students incorporate self-assessment strategies into their study habits they learn more, retain more and have more success recalling and applying new knowledge. But there are three hurdles students must overcome first, writes James Clemens High School AP Psychology teacher Blake Harvard, and it’s up to teachers to convince them the high jumping is worth their time and effort.
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.
Dreamcatchers 2020, a summer learning program supported by the Blount County Education Foundation, was an amazing experience, writes BCEF Executive Director Mitchie Neel. “In this our fifth year, new challenges and obstacles arose due to the coronavirus pandemic. Amazingly, those challenges did not prevent the experience from being impactful on our students. Let me tell you why.”
Building on three years of success with a schoolwide behavioral management program, Etowah Middle School decided to go even deeper and engage students in small groups for social-emotional learning. Assistant principal Nate Ayers describes some of the steps EMS has taken “to facilitate a safe and positive learning environment with strong social and emotional support.”
The worst thing we can do for students today, writes Pike Road Elementary assistant principal Jeremy VanEgmond, is to underestimate their ability to thrive in a digitally empowered world and make a positive difference in the challenging future they will live in. He believes educators must #OverEstimateKids and adapt teaching and learning now to meet our current realities.
Field Day is an exciting event that brings a school together and teaches students the importance of teamwork, sportsmanship, and physical activity. When COVID-19 forced Alabama schools to forego this much-anticipated annual celebration, the staff of FAME Academy (K-3) in Athens City created a “Field Day in a Bag” project, mailing surprise packages to all 288 students. Principal Jeff Mattheus tells the story.
In this guest post, Commissioner Lynn Beshear shares targeted resources curated by the Alabama Department of Mental Health to help support students, educators and parents during the current pandemic. She also highlights the Department’s school system outreach collaborative. “We strive to assist any child we can reach with preventive care and treatment that will help them to become healthy adults.”