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Athens City Schools: FAME Academy’s “Field Day in a Bag”

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.

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Meeting Our Mental Health Challenges During the Covid-19 Pandemic

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.”

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How We Can Help Young Students Grow Their Mindset

“This is too hard.” “I can’t do this.” Tammy Smitherman’s first grade classroom sounded like this at the beginning of the year and she became consumed with how to fix these “I can’t do it” attitudes. As it always seems to happen, she says, “the perfect book fell right into my lap via the Elementary Powerful Conversations Network.” Learn how she turned her students around.

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Pike Road Schools Shares a Morale-Boosting Idea: A Teacher Parade!

Morale is down among teachers and students since the rapid shift to remote learning amid the coronavirus outbreak, according to a survey of teachers and district leaders by the EdWeek Research Center last week. Here’s an cheerful idea that might work for your school and community – a Teacher Parade – complete with safety protocols.

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Teachers at Columbia Elementary “Demonstrate” SEL Skills to Their Students Every Friday Morning – Rain or Shine!

When Columbia Elementary teachers Karen Jump and Lauren Hester heard the challenge to lift their students’ spirits every Friday, they soon came up with a brainstorm. “We made posters with inspiring messages,” writes Jump, “then sent out an email to the school asking for teachers and staff members who wanted to participate. Each Friday morning, we stand outside, welcoming students to school.” Simple? Yes. Impactful? Very!

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Teachers at Athens Middle School Taking Action on Social-Emotional Learning

All Learning Is Social and Emotional – that’s the message shared in a new ASCD book by Nancy Frey, Douglas Fisher and Dominique Smith, and the theme of this year’s Powerful Conversations Network professional learning. Ana Rosales, Instructional Partner at Athens Middle School, shares how this deep dive into SEL has already inspired the AMS faculty to make SEL skill-building a top priority in their school.

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Positive Culture: Lakewood Primary Hops on the Energy Bus!

Wherever you teach, the stress, demands and expectations can take an emotional and physical toll. At Lakewood Primary in Phenix City, Principal Sarah Kimmel and her leadership team recognized the need to support and encourage faculty and staff throughout the year to help alleviate these pressures. Using the motivational book The Energy Bus, they are well on their way to “turning negative energy into positive achievement.”

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Harlan Elementary Attacks the Reading Gap with “Goodnight, Harlan” Bedtime Stories and Other Strategies

The achievement gap between children who read or are read to, and children who are not, is well documented and widely discussed, writes Assistant Principal Jill Edwards. Some schools may view the gap as outside their control, but not Harlan Elementary in Florence City (AL), where educators are using a variety of “combat strategies,” including the newly launched video collection of Goodnight, Harlan bedtime stories.

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