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Don’t Lower the Standards, Do Raise the Empathy

October 21, 2021

Addressing the pervasive  “unexpected behavior challenges” can be a slippery slope. What we’re hearing… Whether it’s California, Massachusetts or Texas, urban, suburban or rural, public or private, we hear the same concern from our schools: “We’ve never seen behavior like this before. It’s not just the students. It’s adults too.” Of course, we all know the reasons: stress,  anxiety, depression, too long in isolation, too much time on social media, teens wanting to make up for lost time. These social-emotional challenges are very real and they are wreaking havoc on everyone, particularly young brains. We all need time and support to heal from this experience. What you’re seeing… We see a lot of schools struggling with discipline and academic standards. Do we lower them to meet kids where they are? Do we “push” a bit… Read More

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Choose Your Own Adventure: The Importance of Learner Choice

September 27, 2021

For those of us who grew up in the 80’s and 90’s the reference to Choose Your Own Adventure books likely brings a nostalgic smile. What was it we universally loved so much? They certainly weren’t the best written stories. But, they empowered us. We chose the plot. We made the character’s decisions. One could say we had all the power of storytelling without the hard work of writing. For many reasons these books aren’t nearly as popular today. Perhaps the biggest one is that students don’t need them the way we did. They have the power of storytelling at their fingertips.  It’s called social media. They choose whose story they want to follow and what pictures they want to view. While adults might not like social media, teens find… Read More

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Re-thinking the Academic Three R’s

August 24, 2021

Despite what social media might have you believe, the academic Three R’s, Reading, (w)Riting and (a)Rithmetic, are still the foundation for all learning. Without these essential skills, students will not have the building blocks for the higher-order thinking that drives 21st century skills like computation, communication and collaboration. This back-to-school, students of all ages might struggle to meet grade level standards. The natural reaction might be to load up on more practice — make up for lost time during virtual learning! While that’s an understandable response, the reality is more might not be better. Instead, students might need something a little different. Consider the Cognitive Three R’s For students at risk of falling behind, we’d strongly encourage you to consider the Three R’s from cognitive science, that is… Read More

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Prioritizing CASEL Skills: Crucial for back-to-school success

August 12, 2021

This back-to-school year don’t just prioritize SEL but focus on the social and emotional skills that will be most important after a year of non-traditional learning. Here are our top recommendations based on the CASEL Framework, the predominant SEL framework in US K12 schools. 1. Start with Relationship Skills Typically students naturally develop Relationship Skills through daily in-school interactions with peers and adults. The last year disrupted typical adolescent development and replaced it with the unnatural feedback of zoom screens, likes, and trolling on social media. As a result, most students will need to (re-)develop the foundation for strong peer and adult relationships BEFORE they are ready to learn and re-engage in school in traditional ways. Without this foundation, you are likely to see a large increase… Read More

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5 Lessons Schools Learned During the Pandemic to Address Learning Loss this Fall

May 23, 2021

The bigger structural changes many hoped would be a silver lining from the pandemic didn’t happen. However, parents and teachers undoubtedly learned some important lessons that can be used to address learning loss and improve in-person school for everyone this Fall. Here are the top things we learned that are (a) also consistent with science and (b) readily implementable by all schools. 1. Social-emotional Learning (SEL) comes first. Regardless of motivation, if a student can’t focus because they are anxious or stressed or inherently struggle with attention, their brain just doesn’t have the space to learn something new. This will be an absolute need in post-COVID classrooms this Fall to efficiently address learning loss and student engagement. Teachers can…give students 5 minutes at… Read More

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