Virtual School Meanderings

March 26, 2021

Changing Schools | March newsletter

This REL newsletter may be of interest to some readers.

March 2021
Planning Season Kicks Into High Gear
This year, it’s more important than ever for principals to plan ahead. The 2021-22 North American school year may seem ages away, but with pandemic-related policies shifting so frequently, multiple contingencies related to hiring, professional development, technology purchases, curricular materials, and instructional interventions should already be taking shape.
In this issue, school improvement expert and former principal Dr. Kent Davis shares his top tips for school leaders to set the stage for success, and Tonia Gibson, a McREL managing consultant and also a former principal, explains how leaders can establish a school climate that encourages curiosity in teachers and students. Also check out our Research Roundup for recent academic work on school leadership.
Bryan Goodwin, CEO, McREL International
New From McREL
How (and Why) Principals Can Prepare Now for 2021-22
Dr. Kent Davis, McREL’s associate director of learning services, learned a valuable lesson as a new principal: Your school year begins three months before everybody else’s. Now, with all the pandemic-related changes principals have to navigate, Kent says many aspects of the school year should be in the works six months out.
How Principals Can Build Curiosity Into School Climate
Curiosity and its many benefits are in short supply in many schools, especially in the older grades, with consequences ranging from student disengagement to, eventually, a poorer and less healthy life. Principals love the idea of infusing curiosity into their school, but is this really something a leader can influence? Definitely! Tonia Gibson shares ideas from Building a Curious School.
Foundation Report Makes It Clear: Principals Matter
An idea that McREL helped to popularize in 2005—that principals can and should be instructional leaders—is now widely accepted. That doesn’t mean it’s easy to accomplish. McREL’s Drs. Kristin Rouleau and Kent Davis summarize a recent foundation report on school leadership and introduce some new ways of thinking about professional learning for school leaders, all aimed to better integrate principals with the work getting done in classrooms.
McREL’s Emphasis on Customization Shines in the Pacific Region
The Pacific Islands loom large in McREL’s school improvement work. Several jurisdictions have invited us to co-create professional learning, coaching, consulting, and analysis solutions geared to their unique needs. In this Success Story, learn how education departments in Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Republic of Palau achieved their goals.
Infographic Introduces Teachers to Pacific Islanders
A new infographic series from REL Pacific is meant to facilitate greater awareness, understanding, and appreciation of the diversity of cultures and experiences of Pacific Island students, both inside and outside the classroom. The first infographic in the series provides an overview of the Compacts of Free Association, including the historical and current social and political context necessary to understand some of the experiences of Pacific Island students in U.S. schools.
Check Our Updated Products & Services Catalog
2021 Spring Catalog Cover
The McREL Products and Services Catalog has been refreshed for the spring. Learn about the many ways McREL helps state departments, education service areas, districts, and individual schools to thrive through change.
Research Roundup
A selection of research news that ties into our work on leadership, instruction, school improvement, and professional learning here at McREL.
Delving deeper into principals’ influence. The link between principals’ actions and student learning is so well established that it’s time to move past “whether” and focus on “how,” according to a U.S.-Canadian team writing in Educational Administration Quarterly. Analyzing four ways that principals can reach students, the authors found that collective teacher efficacy (CTE) had the highest correlation with student success. They defined CTE as “the level of confidence a group exudes in its capacity to organize and execute the tasks required to reach desired goals.” Read the article in Educational Administration Quarterly.
How district leaders make decisions. Student data is hardly the only factor that influences how school district leaders make decisions, according to a new paper in the American Educational Research Journal. Class, race, and language also influence how they identify problems and solutions. The more controversial the policy, the likelier leaders are to invoke real-world stories to persuade one another, the researchers found. To make their observations, the researchers gained access to hundreds of hours of behind-the-scenes meetings that the public isn’t usually privy to at a midsized urban California district. Read the article in the American Educational Research Journal.
Protecting principals’ well-being. Stress is the inevitable result as principals gain responsibilities but lose decision-making autonomy, says a study of Australian and Irish principals in Educational Management Administration & Leadership. Social capital, a complex web of relationships, can help principals thrive if it leads to trusting working partnerships and shared goals and values. Principals’ long work hours can make it hard to form networks, but doing so, within the school and in the broader community, makes it “easier to find support and face the increasing demands that negatively impact their well-being.” Read the article in Educational Management Administration & Leadership.
Project-based learning gets multiple votes of confidence. The George Lucas Educational Foundation announced the publication of four studies that supported the use of project-based learning (PBL) in all grade levels. In addition to being a great way for students to build curiosity and capacity, PBL can help to address pandemic-related learning loss, the foundation said. Read the foundation’s press release, which contains links to the studies.
WE’RE HIRING!
As a growing organization, we’re expanding our team of educators, researchers, project managers, and communicators to provide supports and services to more schools, districts, and education agencies. Interested in joining our team? Check out this current opening on the McREL careers page:
  • Research Director (Honolulu)
CONTACT US TODAY
Learn more about how our coaching, professional learning, and analysis services can help your school or system reach its goals.
McREL International
P 800.858.6830 | F 303.337.3005
McREL International | 4601 DTC Blvd., Suite 500Denver, CO 80237

March 12, 2021

REL Webinar: Rethinking Data for Improvement, Accountability, and Support Under COVID-19

This webinar may be of interest to some readers.

 Institute of Education Sciences

REL Webinar: Rethinking Data for Improvement, Accountability, and Support Under COVID-19

Join REL Southwest, REL Appalachia, REL Mid-Atlantic, and REL Northeast & Islands for a webinar on how states, districts, and schools are rethinking data in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Participants will:

  • Explore examples of how state and local education agencies are using data differently to inform district and school improvement, accountability, and support during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Discuss new instructional and social-emotional needs that have emerged and how states and districts are using data to identify and respond to these needs
  • Discuss lessons learned about using data differently, as well as thoughts about changes in practice moving forward

This webinar is designed for a broad national audience of educators and education leaders at the state and local levels. If you cannot attend the live event, register at the link below to be notified when the webinar archive is available online.

Rethinking Data for Improvement, Accountability, and Support Under COVID-19
March 18, 2021
3:00–4:00 p.m. ET
Register here

*****

The Regional Educational Laboratories (RELs) build the capacity of educators to use data and research to improve student outcomes. Each REL responds to needs identified in its region and makes learning opportunities and other resources available to educators throughout the United States. The REL program is a part of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) in the U.S. Department of Education. To receive regular updates on REL work, including events and reports, follow IES on Facebook and Twitter. To provide feedback on this or other REL work, email Contact.IES@ed.gov.

The Institute of Education Sciences, a part of the U.S. Department of Education, is the nation’s leading source for rigorous, independent education research, evaluation and statistics.
IES Research on Facebook IES Research on Twitter
By visiting Newsflash you may also sign up to receive information from IES and its four Centers NCESNCERNCEE, & NCSER to stay abreast of all activities within the Institute of Education Sciences (IES).

March 10, 2021

REL Webinar: Joyful Reading at School and at Home

Note this up-coming webinar.

 Institute of Education Sciences

REL Webinar: Joyful Reading at School and at Home

Join REL West for the next webinar in their series of free events focused on a routine for storybook reading and ideas for home-family connections. During this webinar participants will learn about:

  • Moving from a joyful reading routine to creative expression activities
  • Evidence on the relationship between creativity and language and literacy development
  • How to integrate creative activities into their own practice, in partnership with families and caregivers

Presenters will include administrators from two schools in Fresno Unified School District and San Diego Unified School District. This event is intended for preK, kindergarten, and first grade teachers; principals; coaches; district staff; and staff developers.

Joyful Reading at School and at Home: Creative Expression Activities
March 25, 2021
2:00–3:30 p.m. PT
Register here

*****

The Regional Educational Laboratories (RELs) build the capacity of educators to use data and research to improve student outcomes. Each REL responds to needs identified in its region and makes learning opportunities and other resources available to educators throughout the United States. The REL program is a part of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) in the U.S. Department of Education. To receive regular updates on REL work, including events and reports, follow IES on Facebook and Twitter. To provide feedback on this or other REL work, email Contact.IES@ed.gov.

The Institute of Education Sciences, a part of the U.S. Department of Education, is the nation’s leading source for rigorous, independent education research, evaluation and statistics.
IES Research on Facebook IES Research on Twitter
By visiting Newsflash you may also sign up to receive information from IES and its four Centers NCESNCERNCEE, & NCSER to stay abreast of all activities within the Institute of Education Sciences (IES).

March 4, 2021

REL Southeast Director’s Email—March 2021

A newsletter from one of the RELs – and note the “Ask a REL” feature at the bottom.

View this email in your browser

REL Southeast

Director’s Email

March 2021

Greetings from the REL Southeast,

This month we would like to share three new exciting products. You can find brief descriptions and links to each below. We look forward to sharing more resources with you in the future, and as always, thank you for helping to improve education.

Dr. John Hughes
Director, REL Southeast

Product Spotlight


Career Readiness: Building School/Career Networks

This infographic presents two practices that focus on how educators can help with teaching for career readiness and implementation of career-focused programs.

Explore the infographic here.

Product Spotlight


Audio file iconA Second Grade Teacher’s Guide to Supporting Family Involvement in Foundational Reading Skills

This Second Grade Teacher’s Guide provides information for second grade teachers on how to support families as they practice foundational reading skills at home.

Explore the guide here.

Product Spotlight


Self-Study Guide for Evidence-Based Coaching for Literacy: PreK–Grade 12

This Self-study Guide for Evidence-Based Literacy Coaching PreK-Grade 12 was developed to help improve the effectiveness of literacy coaching in order to increase the knowledge, skill, and ability of teachers to implement evidence-based practices.

Explore the guide here.

Ask A REL

Ask A REL is a collaborative reference desk service provided by the 10 regional educational laboratories (REL) that by design, functions much in the same way as a technical reference library. It provides references, referrals, and brief responses in the form of citations on research-based education questions.

To submit your question to Ask A REL, click here. Explore Ask A REL responses here.

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Website
You are receiving this email because you opted in at our website or provided your information at a REL Southeast sponsored event.

Our mailing address is:

REL Southeast at Florida State University

2010 Levy Avenue
Suite 100

Tallahassee, FL 32310

February 20, 2021

Changing Schools | February newsletter

Several items in this REL newsletter that may be of interest to some readers.

February 2021
Let’s Talk About Talking
More of our students these days are bilingual and multilingual, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics. As of three years ago, 5 million students across the U.S. were learning English as an additional language, 10% of the overall student population. As we strive to support our students who are acquiring English fluency, it’s important to remember the value of encouraging students to talk in class with their peers, as my colleague Jane Hill points out in a recent post on our blog. Any educator fortunate enough to study with Jane, whether through her bookonline course, or in-person professional learning, is reminded just how vital student discourse is to language acquisition at any age.
In this issue of Changing Schools, Jane explains how talking in class has gone from a disciplinary infraction to a prized outcome within her lifetime. Whatever format you’re teaching in right now, I know you’ll find her observations useful. Enjoy the post and talk it up!
Bryan Goodwin, CEO, McREL International
New From McREL
Rediscovering the Power of Student Talk for Language Acquisition
Until quite recently, teachers equated student silence with focus, but a new appreciation for the learning power of peer-to-peer conversations using academic language (sentence structure and discourse in addition to vocabulary) is opening opportunities for English learners and their teachers.
McREL’s Jane Hill explains how learning new academic content and a new language at the same time can be the best way to learn both.
Valuing Students’ Linguistic Abilities
Translanguaging infographic page 1
Languages are important aspects of students’ identities and cultures, and being able to use all of their linguistic abilities in school is important to their development as learners. The theory of translanguaging provides a framework for supporting and leveraging students’ multilingualism in the classroom. Our colleagues at the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Pacific have created a free infographic that describes translanguaging and shows how teachers can put it to use.
Applying Real-Life Teaching Strategies to Hollywood Classrooms
Glen Pearsall, author of Tilting Your Teaching, shows how critiquing a classroom scene from a movie can reveal how actual teachers could have done things differently using small changes in instructional practice that can lead to big gains in student learning and engagement.
Read Glen’s post and get the free microdata tools that come with Tilting Your Teaching.
Learning That Sticks in an Online Classroom
In an ongoing blog series, Bryan Goodwin, lead author of Learning That Sticks, shows how McREL’s six-phase brain-based learning model can be adapted for use during online instruction to help students become interested in learning, commit to learning, focus on new learning, make sense of learning, practice and reflect, and (coming soon) extend and apply their learning.
Keep the Momentum Going on Family Engagement
From our colleagues at REL Pacific, here’s some encouragement on maintaining progress when it comes to engaging families in learning—one of the strongest predictors of student success. The recent shift to remote learning may provide an opportunity for educators to provide more—and more accessible—ways for parents and other caregivers to be a part of their children’s education.
Read REL Pacific’s blog post on family engagement
Capturing Student Engagement and Motivation With Conversations About Purpose and Personalization
Researchers have identified several factors that contribute to or coincide with student engagement, and McREL consultant Tonia Gibson, writing in Education Week’s Classroom Q&A With Larry Ferlazzo blog, puts her finger on a variable that teachers can influence: motivation. Tonia points out that on average, engagement decreases sharply as students age, but teachers can defy the odds by getting to know their students as individuals and being crystal clear about the purpose for learning, which in turn motivates them to learn more deeply.
Read Tonia’s comments, and those of other student engagement experts, at Classroom Q&A With Larry Ferlazzo.
Research Roundup
A selection of research news that ties into our work on leadership, instruction, school improvement, and professional learning here at McREL.
What about the silent ones? Student talk is a worthy goal, but some students are naturally reticent or use silence for protection or control. High achievers have strategies to compensate for the loss of learning that uncommunicativeness might otherwise entail, but low performers can enter a spiral of keeping quiet out of fear of underperforming, and thus underperform even more. Two Czech researchers have explored how a welcoming classroom environment can help these students participate more. Read the paper in the Journal of the Learning Sciences.
“Making” and collective creativity. The “maker movement” shows the way toward achieving two important educational objectives: giving students ways to demonstrate their learning, and fostering creativity. Two Cypriot researchers take the idea of creativity a step further, finding that participating in maker activities in STEAM classes helps build collective creativity. Read the paper in The Journal of Educational Research.
Teacher evaluation gaps in context. University researchers studying racial inequities in teacher evaluation ratings reviewed data from Chicago Public Schools and found that minority teachers are likelier to be assigned to schools and classrooms serving students with greater socio-economic and academic needs, and this influences their evaluation scores. The authors recommend that evaluators take classroom and school context into account in order “to generate more equitable ratings of teacher performance and mitigate potential adverse consequences for teacher diversity.” Read the paper in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis.
Online Professional Learning
We’re currently scheduling on-site, in-person professional learning with schools for later this year. In the meantime, check out these online courses for insights, strategies, and tools for great instruction and student learning.
Learn all about crafting high-quality questions that deepen student learning.
Design, sequence, and present lessons in a way that best aligns with what brain research and learning sciences tell us about how students learn, remember, recall, and apply knowledge.
Create a positive, empowering classroom environment that supports higher levels of student learning.
Bookstore
Feed your professional curiosity and growth with our books, quick reference guides, and reflective journals on effective teaching, learning, and school leadership. Volume discounts are available for school and district purchase orders. Email POs to store@mcrel.org.
Sometimes all it takes is an intentional pause, a purposeful glance, or a few well-timed words to keep a lesson on track. Learn the Seven Simple Shifts to gain students’ cooperation, engagement, and focus, and help them learn even more.
Unpack the cognitive science underlying student learning and memory so that you can sequence your lessons into experiences that challenge, inspire, and engage your students. As a result, you’ll learn to teach with more intentionality—understanding not just what to do but also when and why to do it.
Building a Curious School uncovers the subtle ways in which formal education seems to hinder our natural curiosity and reveals how rekindling a sense of wonder in schools can prime the pump for learning, foster a culture of engagement, grow better educational leaders, and prepare students and staff to lead more fulfilling lives.
We all wish for our students to become more self-motivated and to show a greater passion for learning. But how can we turn this universal wish into classroom reality? By tapping into the most basic and powerful learning drive of all—curiosity.
You’ve probably heard that teaching is a journey. So . . . where are you on yours? Discover the power of self-reflection to achieve ever-deeper insights into your own strengths—and ever-better results from your students.
WE’RE HIRING!
As a growing organization, we’re expanding our team of educators, researchers, project managers, and communicators to provide supports and services to more schools, districts, and education agencies. Interested in joining our team? Check out this current opening on the McREL careers page:
  • Research Director (Honolulu)
CONTACT US TODAY
Learn more about how our coaching, professional learning, and analysis services can help your school or system reach its goals.
McREL International
P 800.858.6830 | F 303.337.3005
McREL International | 4601 DTC Blvd., Suite 500Denver, CO 80237
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