Virtual School Meanderings

April 23, 2016

McREL e-News April 2016 | Strengthen Your Teaching, Leading, And Learning

From Thursday’s inbox…

April 2016

Strengthen your teaching, leading, and learning
Transform your teaching and leading this summer. Join us in Denver for high-impact professional development sessions that will expand your knowledge and ability to make real changes in teaching, leading, and learning. We’ll present research-based, best-practice strategies you can use immediately to help you—-and your students—-flourish.
Register by April 30, 2016, and receive a 10% discount per person.
Visit our events page to view the complete lineup of PD sessions and register.

Research Roundup

School conditions matter for student achievement, new research confirms

Researchers from Brown and Harvard universities looked at annual survey data collected from 278 New York City middle schools between 2008 and 2012 and found that increases in four measures of school climate—-school safety and order, leadership and professional development, high academic expectations, and teacher relationships and collaboration—-led to decreases in teacher turnover. Increases in high academic expectations and school safety were also linked to increases on state math examinations.

Study: High-quality pre-K for all could eliminate reading gaps
Education Week

Researchers analyzed reading and math scores in two of the highest-performing public preschool programs in the U.S. (Boston and Tulsa) and determined that a national high-quality preschool program would benefit African-American and Hispanic students most, potentially reducing the achievement gap in math by 78 percent for Hispanic students, and 45 percent for African-American students by kindergarten entry. In both groups, the achievement gap in reading would be eliminated.

Schools combine meditation and brain science to help combat discipline problems

This article profiles an Indiana elementary school that teaches students about neuroscience, brain function, and meditation to improve student behavior and reduce suspensions and office referrals. In the pilot year of the program, the school issued zero suspensions, and office referrals decreased.

Attention, students: Put your laptops away

This NPR story cites research on student note-taking, which shows that, although students take more notes when typing them on a digital device such as a tablet or computer, students who take hand-written notes better process, understand, and retain the information being taught.

Events & Opportunities

Session | Roots of Empathy International Research Symposium
Toronto, Canada, Apr. 28-29, 2016
Join McREL executive director Dr. Phillip Herman for his featured session on “Culturally Responsive Research and Development in the Pacific.” Dr. Herman, who also directs the U.S. Department of Education’s Regional Educational Laboratory for the Pacific (REL Pacific), will share how the REL Pacific program collaborates with local educators to engage in research and development projects that are culturally responsive, useful, and locally construed.

Learn more and register for the symposium.

Summer PD | Balanced Leadership® Institute for School-Level Leaders
Denver, Colorado, Jul. 18-21, 2016
In this four-day institute, learn the leadership responsibilities that research shows are most strongly connected to student achievement. You’ll receive practical strategies you can use in your school to develop a purposeful and positive school community, initiate and manage change within your school, and choose the right focus for your school’s improvement initiatives. If you cannot attend all four days, you can register for individual days of your choice. Register by April 30, 2016, to receive a 10% discount per person. Learn more and register.

Summer PD | Balanced Leadership Institute for District-Level Leaders
Denver, Colorado, Jul. 21-22, 2016
In this two-day institute, learn a Balanced Leadership approach to improving systems and innovation for student and staff success. You’ll explore the district-level leadership activities and behaviors that research shows are most connected to student and staff success, and how these leadership responsibilities apply to the actions of superintendents, school boards, and central office staff. We’ll share the principles of high-reliability systems and the actions used in healthcare, aviation, and other complex industries, and how these principles can be effectively applied to education systems. Register by April 30, 2016, to receive a 10% discount per person. Learn more and register.

Summer PD | Classroom Instruction That Works®—-Workshop
Denver, Colorado, Jul. 25-27, 2016
Learn research-based, practice-proven instructional strategies and ways to implement them in the classroom. Discover how each strategy can be effective with any student, at any grade level, and in any subject area, to enhance student achievement.
  • Learn new, evidence-based insights from the most recent, rigorous research
  • Get an instructional framework to strengthen instructional design
  • Discover the reasons for choosing certain strategies for certain situations
  • Connect the strategies to essential 21st century skills

Whether the strategies are new to you or something you already use every day, this workshop will help you raise your level of effectiveness. Register by April 30, 2016, to receive a 10% discount per person. Learn more and register.

Summer PD | Classroom Instruction That Works—-Authorized Facilitator Training
Denver, Colorado, Jul. 25-29, 2016
Attend our Classroom Instruction That Works (CITW) workshop and authorized facilitator training to learn effective research-based instructional strategies and methods to help teachers learn and implement these strategies in their classrooms. The first three days of this training will solidify your understanding of the nine CITW categories of instructional strategies and an instructional planning framework that maximizes the strategies’ effectiveness. The final two days will prepare you to become an authorized facilitator of CITW workshops in your own district or region. Learn more and register.

Podcast | Podcasts for Leaderful Schools
Oakland University produces a podcast series titled “Podcasts for Leaderful Schools” in which Dr. Robert Maxfield, Dr. Suzanne Klein, and Ms. Linda Tyson from the School of Education discuss current topics in education leadership. The April 11 (Vol. 9, Ep. 4) podcast features an interview with McREL CEO Bryan Goodwin on inside-out reform, Curiosity and Powerful Learning, and school-level leadership development.

Research Says | Looking at student work yields insights
Teachers looking together at student work seems like a surefire way to improve teaching and learning, as teachers look at real artifacts and reflect on expectations, practices, and results. However, as with most things in education, success depends not on what teachers do but how they do it, write Bryan Goodwin and Heather Hein in this month’s Research Says column in Educational Leadership.

Blog Post | Water the flowers: Tips for maintaining a positive classroom environment
In this blog post, Cheryl Abla offers tips on keeping yourself, and your students, in a positive frame of mind by redirecting classroom energy when it becomes stressful or unfocused. She writes, “A classroom teacher’s day is loaded with both split-second decisions and methodical, deep decisions. It’s those split-second decisions that can transform the classroom atmosphere to a feeling of doom and gloom or of joy and hope.”

Blog Post | Looking on the bright side for school improvement
How could looking at a school’s bright spots inform school improvement efforts? In his new blog post, Ben Cronkright suggests that school improvement teams that focus on the positives rather than the deficits can reveal opportunities to improve on and replicate what’s going right in their schools by engaging in higher-order reflection and steering discussion to a path of “shared vision.”


PeopleAdmin and McREL partner to bring K-12 districts evaluation technology and actionable data to improve staff performance
McREL and PeopleAdmin, the leader in talent management software for education, haveannounced a partnership aimed at empowering K-12 administrators to more easily use technology and data to improve teacher and principal effectiveness and focus on improving student outcomes.
Client Testimonial
“My training through McREL has made my lesson planning more purposeful and intentional. I have seen growth in my skills as a teacher, which is reflected in the growth I see in my students. It has been a powerful experience to see my students in early childhood and special education become more interested in the classroom activities when they are given a focus for their learning.”
Jackie Warren, Teacher, Francis Howell School District, Missouri
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