Link Lines – May 2021 Issue

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Read Educator’s Lesson

By Shelley Littleton M.Ed., Kara McCulloch M.S., & Donni Perry M.Ed.


Administrator's Corner 3

Courageous School Leadership

By Cathy Buyrn, M.Ed.

The 2020-2021 school year has posed leadership challenges like no other school year. School leaders have had to courageously build multiple solutions to unique challenges and pivot quickly when circumstances changed. To support you in meeting these unprecedented challenges, Link Lines has published a number of relevant articles in the past year. For example, in the July and September issues, we addressed the importance of social emotional learning (SEL) and self-care heading into an unprecedented year.

Social and Emotional Learning Strategies for Administrators

Responsive School Restarting Considerations for Administrators

In the November and February editions of Link Lines, we pointed school leaders towards literacy and math practices for closing the skill gap that align with High Leverage Practices (HLPs). These academically focused practices will go a long way towards closing skill gaps that may have widened during the 2020-2021 school year.

Literacy Leadership at the IEP Meeting

Supervising High-Quality Math Instruction

In the spring edition of Link Lines, we wanted to hear from essential school workers who faced down this school year with amazing courage and creativity both in person and virtually. We asked them to share what they have learned this year and what ideas and strategies they are excited about keeping in their toolboxes for next year. View their inspiring Flip Grid videos in the educators’ lesson at the link above.

Moving into the summer and the 2021-2022 school year, school leaders will need to continue to keep SEL and self-care an important part of their weekly routines and set up structures for school staff members to do the same. The VDOE I’m Determined project offers a variety of tools that can be used by leaders, school staff, and students. The Good Day Plan and Goal Plan templates can help set the stage for SEL and self-care reflection and planning in order to ensure success at all levels.

Good Day Plan Template

Goal Plan Template

While SEL and self-care should stay at the top of the priority list heading into the new school year, school leaders also need to prepare themselves to engage in the courageous leadership behaviors defined by the Virginia Department of Education’s Ed Equity 5Cs (i.e., culturally responsive, courageous leadership, curriculum reframing, compassionate student and family engagement, continuous reflection) (VDOE, 2020).

Courageous Leadership Behaviors

  • Make inequities visible
  • Disrupt discourse, practices, and policies that perpetuate inequities
  • Encourage programs that support multi-lingual language and literacy development
  • Normalize conversations about race, racism, and inequity
  • Support people and building level administrators in efforts to address equity and racism
  • Promote diversity and cultivate responsibility for equity
  • Establish and communicate antiracism and equity policies to all stakeholders
  • Establish and communicate clear equity goals
  • Allocate resources to advance equity goals

(VDOE, 2020, p. 24)

In addition to the overall impacts of COVID-19 on society and schools, the past year has brought into focus issues of equity. Much of the discussion has been focused on race, culture, ethnicity, and economic disparities. Inequities across diverse groups of students can be compounded by disabilities and result in poor outcomes for too many students.

Courageous school leaders will have to help school staff let go of low expectations for these vulnerable students. They will also need to intentionally funnel resources into programs designed to compassionately engage marginalized groups of students (including students with disabilities) in order to close critical skill gaps and improve long-term outcomes for ALL students.

School leaders will be ahead of the game going into the 2021-2022 school year if they continue to make SEL and self-care a priority for all school community stakeholders and develop a plan for building the VDOE Ed Equity 5Cs into the fabric of their vision and mission to create inclusive and equitable school communities.

Additional Resources

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL)

Navigating EdEquityVA:  Virginia’s Road Map to Equity

Considerations for COVID Recovery Services for Students with Disabilities

Back to School Considerations:  Options for Ensuring FAPE (PEATC.Org)

9 Recommendations for Inclusive Learning Recovery for Students with Disabilities

References

Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) Office of Equity & Community Engagement. (2020). Navigating EdEquityVA:  Virginia’s road map to equity. http://www.virginiaisforlearners.virginia.gov/edequityva/

Library Book Suggestions-November 2020

Library Book Suggestions-October 2020

Library Book Suggestions-September 2020

Library Book Suggestions-February 2020

Mastering Math Using the Proceduralizing Strategy

At all levels, math problem solving requires specific, ordered steps.  Simple recall of steps is only a small part of the process.  The desired learning outcome is for students to be able to identify the appropriate procedure and to understand how to apply it and why it works.  Students with disabilities and other students who struggle with math may have difficulty remembering, understanding, and/or executing steps in the problem-solving process.  The Proceduralizing Strategy (Thomas, Brunsting, & Warrick, 2010), when used throughout Tier 1, 2, and 3 instruction, can reduce barriers with recall and application. [Read more…]

Proactive Preparation: Secondary Mathematics Standards of Learning Tests

It’s that time of year again – time for targeted and effective instructional remediation to prepare students for Standards of Learning (SOL) assessments.  How do we decide the skill areas in which our math students need remediation?  Once those skills have been identified, how do we provide effective remediation that is more than just repetition of the classroom lessons to which they have already been exposed?

[Read more…]

Open-Ended Math Questions Reveal Student Thinking

Careful, intentional, and mindful questioning is one of the most powerful tools a skillful teacher possesses (Costa & Kallick, 2000).  Teachers can use open-ended questions during math instruction or assessments to learn how students are problem-solving. [Read more…]

The Power of Engagement: Connecting Students, Families, and Learning

It is essential to provide students with disabilities “rigorous and relevant instruction to better engage students in learning and provide the skills needed to graduate and to serve them after they leave school” (Wilkins & Huckabee, 2014, p. 45). This statement, in turn, leads to the question: How do students want to be engaged in their learning? When a middle school teacher asked her eighth graders that question, one student responded, “I believe that it all boils down to relationships.  Not relationships from teacher to student or relationships from student to student, but rather relations between the text and the outside world” (Wolpert-Gawron, 2012, “Connecting the Real World,” para. 1).  Another student observed, “When a student is active they learn in a deeper way than sitting” (Wolpert-Gawron, 2012, “Get Me Out of My Seat!” para. 1). [Read more…]

Math Problem Solving and the Use of Generative Strategies

A recent Facebook post by the Secret Society of Happy People (September 17, 2014) highlighted a common concern among many educators and students regarding math word problems.  The post read, “Every time I see a math word problem, this is what it looks like:  If I had 10 ice cubes and you had 11 apples, how many pancakes will fit on the roof?[Read more…]