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 20, 2021

REL Mid-Atlantic Newsletter, Spring 2021

A couple of remote learning items below that may be of interest to readers.

Click here to view in browser

REL Mid-Atlantic News

Latest News from the Director

Brian Gill

It has been a long and challenging winter, but with spring here and vaccine distribution under way, there is hope that more students and teachers can be back in school buildings—and that anxiety levels can be lower among those returning as well as those who have managed to keep their buildings open during the winter. I won’t suggest we’ll all be returning to “normal,” because schooling will surely have changed permanently in some ways. Some of those changes should be for the better, as educators find ways to integrate some of the tools and approaches that the pandemic forced them to adopt to promote learning remotely. At REL Mid-Atlantic, we’ve continued to look for ways to support your work with research and data, offering insights from teachers and principals, suggestions for how districts can use data to promote transparency, a video with strategies for learning at home, and a webinar on keeping students engaged while they are learning remotely. I hope you find some of the resources below useful as you support student learning in school or at home.

 

Brian Gill
Director, REL Mid-Atlantic

RELevant Blog Posts

How School Districts Can Leverage Data in These Uncertain Times

 

This blog post offers school leaders ideas for using new types of data to promote better outcomes and support students during the pandemic. It builds on a spring 2020 post about data transparency to promote accountability.

Leverage Data

Classroom

Voices from the Field on School Reopenings: Teacher Stressors and Needed Supports

 

Figuring out how to deal with COVID-19, working from home, holding virtual classes, and collaborating in the pandemic environment have put a strain not only on students and families but also on teachers. Educators on our Governing Board offer their thoughts for coping during the pandemic.

Tips Video

Tips for Building a Foundation to Move Forward

Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic at Home: A Video with Tips for Building a Foundation to Move Forward

 

In response to COVID-19, REL Mid-Atlantic has collaborated with other labs across the country to put together evidence-based resources about teaching and learning in a remote environment. A new video draws on these resources to provide tips to help families and caregivers build young children’s basic skills at home. View the recommendations for strengthening reading, writing, and arithmetic, especially in the early years.

Free Webinar

Addressing the Challenge of Keeping Kids Engaged During the Pandemic

 

The spread of COVID-19 has caused schools and districts across the country to reconsider how to meet the needs of their students and teachers in a remote or hybrid environment. Like many state departments of education across the country, the New Jersey Department of Education wants to better understand how to offer high quality instruction while keeping students engaged. Listen to this free webinar recording on the work we conducted to better understand challenges and opportunities with promoting student engagement in these learning environments.

Free Webinar

Out and About

School climate indices can help state and local education agencies compare and identify schools that need targeted assistance. At the Pennsylvania Data Summit, REL Mid-Atlantic researchers Lauren Amos and Yange Xue, along with Pennsylvania Department of Education staff, discussed how school climate indices can help agencies answer questions about school improvement and supports that schools need.

 

REL Mid-Atlantic Director Brian Gill discussed evidence on COVID-19 transmission in schools at a SREE virtual convening on March 1. Researchers have been working hard to produce evidence to inform the decisions that schools will have to consider for at least the next several months, even as vaccines are rolled out. This webinar featured a panel of researchers who have contributed to the evidence from various perspectives. Collectively, their findings can help educators and policymakers make better-informed decisions about school operations as the pandemic continues.

Alternate text

Please reach out anytime at RELmidatlantic@mathematica-mpr.com to share your ideas about important issues the REL Mid-Atlantic could address, request free technical assistance, or ask questions about how we can help you in your work.

This work was funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES) under contract ED-IES-17-C-0006, with REL Mid-Atlantic, administered by Mathematica. The content of the newsletter does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of IES or the U.S. Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. government.

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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