Schools across Alabama are finding silver linings and reasons to celebrate in a very difficult year. And so are we! With the help of many guest contributors across our educator networks, this marks the publication of our 500th ABPC Blog post. We’ve chosen a few representative samples to highlight. But first Cathy Gassenheimer shares our other big reason to celebrate — the very encouraging results from our latest independent evaluation.
The ABPC Blog
In the past six weeks, ABPC has hosted six live Key Leaders Network sessions and 11 live sessions for the Powerful Conversations Network, attended online by over 600 educators in nearly 40 districts. Thanks to candid participant feedback, we quickly learned how we could better engage our members, create more dynamic breakout sessions, and improve our networking as a whole. Want to participate in the next round? Read on.
Saraland City Schools in Mobile County was one of the first systems in Alabama to reopen schools for in-person instruction this fall amid COVID-19. With many other districts planning to reopen in the coming weeks, we wanted to highlight how one district did it. A+ VP for Policy Matt Smith spoke with Supt. Dr. Aaron Milner and other district/school leaders about the decision to reopen and how school has gone for the first 8 weeks.
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.
We’re pleased to share the news that the Third Annual Alabama Conference on Grading and Assessment will take place online on November 7 with national assessment-for-learning expert Dr. Douglas Reeves as our keynote speaker. Read on to learn more about this important initiative from ABPC’s Stoney Beavers and Dr. Andrew Maxey of Tuscaloosa City Schools. You can register now at the ACGAL website!
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.”
Recent research from PISA reveals a “reading-for-pleasure gap” between students in the United States and countries like China. ARI Director Tracye Strichik and ABPC’s Cathy Gassenheimer are encouraging teachers and parents to help children, tweens and teens discover the joy of devoting time each day to reading just for fun. (They don’t even have to know it’s good for them!)
Over its 12-year history, A+ College Ready has been highly successful in offering face-to-face professional learning programs for teachers, writes Vice President for Academic Affairs Tammy Dunn. But the 2020 pandemic forced Tammy’s team to adapt all they do to a virtual learning format. Sharing five lessons learned, she says “many things are going to be different in the future because of our experiences of the last six months.”
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.”
During this upside-down time, stress is inevitable. Try not to be like the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, who runs around complaining that “I’m late, I’m late.” Instead, take a deep breath, and give yourself a short break to take care of your immediate need to relax. By taking care of yourself, you’ll be able to take care of others. Cathy shares a “Self Care Box” that can help us stay on a healthy path.