Virtual School Meanderings

May 23, 2020

Let’s Build On The Lessons Of Distance Learning

A newsletter from a US-based K-12 blended learning organization.

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Join the conversation as we partner with communities to design and implement school-based change.

In This Week’s Issue

  • The Providence Journal features distance learning op-ed from our Educational Strategies Specialist Melinda Lopez
  • Tune into the latest episode of the Be Education Podcast for a school case study on Greystone Elementary
  • Tilo & the Liber Institute host free talk on Caretaker Guilt During the Pandemic
  • Rhode Island College Seeks Responses to Blended & Personalized Learning in Special Education Survey

“Separate from the Health Department guidelines that will change what school looks like this fall, we must not miss our chance to reframe school for learners and educators. We are often told in life that challenges can be seized as opportunities. This is certainly an opportunity for all Rhode Islanders to reimagine the school experience. It is our time to learn from families. It is our time to answer the call.”

Melinda Lopez, an Educationalist Strategies Specialist on our Implementation Team, shares a stirring op-ed in today’s edition of The Providence Journal. In the piece, Melinda details insights she’s gained from supporting the parent and family expansion of the RI Distance Learning Helpline as well as what she hopes these connections mean for the future of our school communities as we design approaches to school re-entry in the fall.

If Melinda’s words resonate with you, please reach out to keep the conversation going, and spread the word about the free helpline support available to all Rhode Island teachers, students, adult learners, and families. The helpline can be reached via web at tinyurl.com/rihelpline or phone by calling (401) 232-4725.

Latest Podcast Episode: Greystone Elementary School Case Study

On Episode 57 of the Be Education Podcast, School Story: Greystone Elementary Shifts to Distance Learning, Mike Miele of Highlander Institute and Stefanie LaFleur, Principal of North Providence’s Greystone Elementary School join hosts Christina and Nick to talk about the expectations and reality of making the shift to distance learning during a pandemic. Conversation topics include adjustments to curriculum, reflections on social emotional well-being, family and community engagement, and the importance of keeping the school’s big picture vision at the heart of everything.

Since summer 2019, Mike, Stefanie, and the entire Greystone team have been collaborating to implement a model for school change built around our Pathway to Personalization framework. We want to thank Stefanie, Greystone Elementary, and North Providence School District for such a productive partnership!

From Other Organizations

Next Talk in New Series from Tilo & The Liber Institute

“We may experience guilt when we tell others what we truly feel or when we wish to say no to another’s demands or even to our own self-imposed expectations. To avoid the guilt, we suppress our truer response — only to suffer resentment and long-term harm.” – Dr. Gabor Mate.

Following the first talk in this series, Connection During Distancing, Tilo and The Liber Institute are ready for our second virtual session: Caretaker Guilt During the Pandemic, on Saturday, May 30 at 10AM ET. During this pandemic, many of us are feeling powerful emotions, including guilt. This talk will build on our previous conversation about stress and support us on a path toward a healthier relationship with guilt. The Zoom link will be emailed upon registration.

Our first talk sold out in less than three days, so don’t miss your chance to register for this free event. Click below for more details.

RIC Professor Seeks Survey Responses Beyond RI

Professor Marie Lynch from Rhode Island College is conducting a survey about Blended and/or Personalized Learning practices to better understand the impact on students with special educational needs. She is most interested to hear from classroom teachers and administrators who have firsthand knowledge about these practices for these students. The survey, which is anonymous, is made up of multiple-choice questions, with few text-based responses, designed to help Rhode Island College better prepare beginning special educators. Results will also help inform other teacher preparation programs nationwide. Your help is most appreciated. Marie can be reached at mlynch@ric.edu

Highlander Institute thanks our Mission Sponsors for their generous support:

May 16, 2020

Learning As An Antidote To Fear

An item from a US-based blended learning organization.

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Join the conversation as we partner with communities to design and implement school-based change.

In This Week’s Issue

  • The 74 featured our Director of Pedagogy Malika Ali’s article “Distance Learning as an Antidote to Fear” this week
  • Always Ready for Learning Network is here to meet your school/district’s needs
  • New episodes of the Be Education Podcast are available to download

Distance Learning as an Antidote to Fear

This week, The 74 published an article written by our Director of Pedagogy, Malika Ali, entitled “Distance Learning as an Antidote to Fear: 4 Key Considerations That Put Student and Family Well-Being First”In the piece, Malika reflects on her own family history and how her experiences and identity have shaped her response to the pandemic. Malika’s message of resilience and hope in the face of crisis has been instrumental in guiding Highlander Institute’s framing to teachers, schools, and districts amidst the shift to distance learning. We are deeply grateful for Malika’s leadership as we designed the 4 Key Considerations for Planning Distance Learning.

If centering relationships with family and co-constructing learning experiences resonate with your team as you look forward to next school year, please let us know how we can help. Get in touch today by emailing koconnell@highlanderinstitute.org.

Access Free Coaching Support through the Always Ready for Learning Network

Customized coaching for leaders to ensure learning can happen anytime, anywhere. The Always Ready For Learning Network is a national, philanthropically-supported initiative to ensure K-12 school district leaders like you get urgent and customized guidance to help you wherever you are in the planning and implementation process. A coalition of leading education experts, our network will work with you to quickly determine concrete next steps as well as connect you with the tools you need to take action. It’s completely free. Highlander Institute is proud to be one of a growing list of education partners joining this initiative.

New Episodes of the Be Education Podcast

Hosts Christina Corser and Nick DiNardo are frequently adding new episodes, so make sure you stay up to date. Check out the latest episodes below!

Episode 55 – Teaching to and Through COVID-19 with Vera De Jesus: Highlander Institute’s own Vera De Jesus joins this conversation to share a bundle of resources for teachers, families, & partner organizations to support around COVID-19, including how to talk to students and share important historical context.

Episode 56 – Experiential Learning through the Food System with Laura Jackson & the Yellow Farmhouse: On this episode, we chat with Laura Jackson about the Yellow Farmhouse, a working farm providing food and farm-based education programming to children and adults.

Highlander Institute thanks our Mission Sponsors for their generous support:

May 9, 2020

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

A newsletter from a US-based blended learning organization.

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Join the conversation as we partner with communities to design and implement school-based change.

Hats Off to Our Teachers

“The influence of teachers extends beyond the classroom, well into the future.” – F. Sionil José  

Never has this quote been more fitting than today. COVID-19 has literally turned our worlds upside down, or better yet, inside out. Nowhere is this more apparent than in our education system. Families everywhere have a birds-eye view into classrooms like never before – and at the heart of the classrooms are our teachers. Teachers are working around the clock to ensure access and equity, putting their routines onto platforms, rolling out new technology and techniques, failing forward, and holding each other up – in other words, modeling lifelong learning skills for our children.

For this and so much more, we at Highlander Institute are so grateful for your service. On behalf of our team, Happy Teacher Appreciation Week. Thank you so much for all you do every single day.

Announcing the Always Ready for Learning Network

Our friends at The Learning Accelerator have launched a national, philanthropically-supported initiative to ensure K-12 school districts receive pro bono, urgent, and customized guidance on how to successfully shift to remote learning and prepare for instruction in the fall and beyond. Highlander Institute is thrilled to be a part of this important network of supporting organizations. 

The Always Ready For Learning Network is a coalition of leading education organizations providing timely, targeted, and sustained coaching to help districts tackle the challenges most relevant to their communities and goals. District participants can access the hands-on support and related resources for free.

The coaching network, which will work together to learn and continuously improve, includes experts from a growing list of organizations, including: 2RevolutionsAfton PartnersCatalyst:EdHighlander InstituteInnovateEDUISTEKnowledgeWorksLINCPowerMyLearningTranscend.

Shoutout to the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Walton Family Foundation for their generous support of this project.

Highlander Institute thanks our Mission Sponsors for their generous support:

May 8, 2020

Navigating Closures, Learning Remotely, And Building A More Resilient Future Together

An item from a US-based blended learning organization.

Student sits and writes on paper while in front of laptop while smiling
Logo JPG
Dear Friends,
For many of us, the last eight weeks have seen enormous personal and professional change. The shift to remote working, teaching, and learning has required tremendous effort. Thank you for all you are doing to support learners — young and old — everywhere.
As we look towards the end of the school year and the fall, there is significant work ahead. How will we ensure we serve students equitably, rigorously, and, importantly, with love and connection wherever they happen to be? TLA has been developing ways to respond in this time of intense need – read on for new programs and projects (and more to come!).
As ever, progress doesn’t happen in isolation; we are deeply grateful for partners across the education field as we chart the path forward. We welcome your feedback and ideas, let us know if there’s anything more you think we can do to help.
Beth Rabbitt, CEO
Recent Highlights
Always Ready for Learning Network
Always Ready for Learning logo
TLA has launched a national, philanthropically-supported initiative to ensure K-12 school districts receive pro bono, urgent, and customized guidance on how to successfully shift to remote learning and prepare for instruction in the fall and beyond. The Always Ready For Learning Network is a coalition of leading education organizations providing timely, targeted, and sustained coaching to help districts tackle the challenges most relevant to their communities and goals. District participants can access the hands-on support and related resources for free. The coaching network, which will work together to learn and continuously improve, includes experts from a growing list of organizations, including:
We are deeply thankful to the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Walton Family Foundation for their generous support of this project.
Today’s One Thing for Teachers and Leaders
There are numerous quality resources for remote learning being shared with schools — but some educators report feeling overwhelmed and in need of targeted, focused guidance. Based on surveyed needs from educators across the country we’ve launched a weekly guide called “Today’s One Thing” to help teachers and school leaders focus on just one important idea or strategy at a time. Topics thus far have ranged from helping students set up structures to support independent work, collecting and analyzing learning data, and establishing a culture of communications. #TLAOneThing
Online Professional Learning
Educators — and the coaches and administrators who support them — are increasingly looking for online professional learning. But what makes for a valuable online learning experience? TLA, in partnership with EdSurge, conducted a comprehensive review of the scientific literature on adult learning and uncovered six key drivers that make for quality online learning for practitioners. We interviewed platform providers and users and developed vignettes to share a glimpse of these drivers in action. Based on the research, TLA published this actionable Insight recommending professional development strategies to support teachers during the shift to remote learning.
GetSetUp for Remote Learning
GetSetUp logo
Teachers shifting to remote learning are navigating a lot of challenges, including for many of them learning how to use certain technology tools for the first time. TLA partnered with GetSetUp to provide free educator-to-educator training on the tools teachers need to plan, connect, and provide instruction and support for students. Educators can sign up to join free group classes taught by other teachers on how to use tools like Zoom, Google Hangouts Meet, YouTube for streaming classes, and various screencasting tools, as well as online teaching platforms.
TLA in the News
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May 2, 2020

A Deeper Dive Into Distance Learning

A weekly newsletter from a US-based K-12 blended learning organization.

No images? Click here

Join the conversation as we partner with communities to design and implement school-based change.

As an organization supporting states, districts, schools, and classrooms during this time of distance learning, we have observed many educators pushing forward on instruction, curriculum, and assessment prior to ensuring the health, safety, and emotional well-being of students and families. As we brace for a longer engagement with distance learning, we want all leaders, coaches, and teachers to think through four key considerations that will help ensure greater equity, scale, and sustainability during this time of national crisis and compassion.

Want to learn more about our 4 Key Considerations? Check out this new video, stop by our website, and don’t hesitate to reach out.

RI Distance Learning Helpline Fields Over 100 Requests from Families in First 2 Weeks

Since expanding the free helpline to all RI families, calls have included a broad range of questions, shining a light on the critical concerns our communities are facing across the state during this unprecedented time. The first 100 calls reflected two major areas of need: increased access to technology devices & internet connections; and special education crises. We are incredibly grateful to our Helpline partners such as the RightClickRhode Island Parent Information Network (RIPIN)Fuse RI Fellows, and librarians across the state for providing customized supports, empathy, and expertise to families.

Due to the high volume of calls and ongoing need across the state, we are opening another line routed to the RI Distance Learning Helpline: 401-232-4725

Be Education Podcast: New Episodes Now Streaming on Spotify

Stay up to date on your favorite education podcast offering bite-sized strategies & conversations targeted to your needs:

  • Episode 53 COVID-19 and the Impact on Education: This episode is an update to our episode released 4/8/2020, discussing how COVID-19 has led to differing approaches in shifting to distance learning; adjustments made based on feedback from students & families; and how to replicate community in a digital setting.
  • Episode 54 Remote Learning vs. Online Learning: In this episode, co-hosts Christina and Nick discuss common misconceptions about the terms remote learning and online learning, thoughts on making changes to workflow/routine with a purpose in mind, and guidance to teachers to err on the side of simplicity.

Upcoming Webinars: Summer School Options & Learning Loss 

With learning loss amplified due to closed schools, providing students with summer school options as a means of catching up is more crucial than ever. In this session, we’ll discuss how designing a cost-effective K-12 summer school program can help mitigate learning loss and get students back up to speed. We’ll address how summer school programs can personalize learning and allow students to work at their own pace. And we’ll cover staffing options such as using your own district teachers, or utilizing virtual instructors for a fully online summer program. This webinar will be offered twice: Thursday, May 7th at 10:00AM ET and Friday, May 8th at 11:00AM ET.

Highlander Institute thanks our Mission Sponsors for their generous support:

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