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By: Marva Jones
I first heard about Ohio’s Strategic Plan for Education when I began looking for my next gig at the Ohio Department of Education. As I read the plan, I thought: Now here is something I can sink my teeth into and make an impact. Honestly, I believed the Department needed something to guide its work, make policy decisions and connect with families, communities and partners to reach each child and affect their future. So, I read on.
There are more than 134,000 full-time educators serving in 3,600 public schools and educating approximately 1.7 million school children in Ohio. The strategic plan was built by Ohioans for Ohioans and launched by Ohio’s superintendent of public instruction and the State Board of Education in the summer of 2018. More than 150 Ohio-based partners worked to develop the plan. Approximately 1,200 Ohio citizens — including parents, caregivers, preK-12 educators, higher education representatives, business leaders, employers, community members, state legislators and, of course, students themselves — attended meetings across the state to review the plan and provide feedback. In total, more than 1,350 Ohioans helped develop the plan.
The plan made me think of my teaching days, but more importantly, it brought up memories of when I became a principal early in my education career. Being the head of a school combined my favorite aspects of education: student interaction, implementation of curriculum, mentoring and supporting teachers, achievement gains, reducing behavioral issues, and partnering with parents and community members. Everything we did focused on how we could positively impact the lives of the children. This sounds just like the strategic plan components.
Specifically, I had a flashback to when I became a new principal in 2006-2007 at Dueber Elementary in Canton City Schools. Being the youngest of 24 principals in the system, I thought about the monumental goal of educating each child. To do this, one of my main missions was to create partnerships with families and community members. I wanted the school to be a great place for students and a place where teachers loved working! That became my mantra.
This document provides an excellent summary of the strategic plan. It highlights that the strategic plan encompasses the following components:
Four Learning Domains — Foundational Knowledge & Skills, Well-Rounded Content, Leadership & Reasoning, and Social-Emotional Learning.
One Goal — Ohio will increase annually the percentage of its high school graduates who, one year after graduation, are: enrolled in post-high school learning; serving in a military branch; earning a living wage; or engaged in a meaningful self-sustaining vocation.
Three Core Principles — Equity, Partnerships and Quality Schools.
10 Priority Strategies — 1) Highly effective teachers and leaders; 2) Principal support; 3) Teacher and instruction support; 4) Standards reflect all learning domains; 5) Assessments gauge all learning domains; 6) Accountability system honors all learning domains; 7) Meet needs of the whole child; 8) Expand quality early learning; 9) Develop literacy skills; 10) Transform high school/provide more paths to graduation.
The state-level vision provides an aspirational guide for students, parents, partners and the education system: In Ohio, each child is challenged to discover and learn, prepared to pursue a fulfilling post-high school path and empowered to become a resilient lifelong learner who contributes to society.
My mission as a principal more than 20 years ago included many of these components. In my coming blogs, take a stroll down memory lane with me and discover how aspects of the strategic plan always have been sprinkled liberally throughout my career. I hope this will help educators see how the work we do aligns with the plan and helps us recognize the difference we are making for each child and the future. In my next blog, I’ll share my thoughts on partnerships.
Marva Jones is senior executive director for Continuous Improvement for the Ohio Department of Education. You can learn more about Marva by clicking here.
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By: Kimberly Monachino
As I walk down the halls of schools, I am always intrigued with the creative and empowering messages that appear on bulletin boards. Especially those messages that focus on inclusive school culture and creating positive learning environments. One tagline read, “Do the right thing even when no one is looking.” Another illustrated a colorful box of crayons with each crayon representing an individual child’s face with the caption “We are a box of crayons, each of us unique, but when we get together, the picture is complete.” Another bulletin board emphasized “Put a stop to bullying! Making others feel bad is never okay!”
I mention these observations in light of October being National Bullying Prevention Awareness month. This year’s Bullying Prevention Awareness Month marks the 10th anniversary of its initiation by PACER's National Bullying Prevention Center. Since 2006, the event has grown to an entire month of education and awareness activities that are being recognized by schools and communities throughout the world.
I am going to provide a basic definition of bullying, along with specific tips for teachers to prevent bullying. The tips are intended for all students, but with an emphasis on students with disabilities. We know that children who bully others also often target children who seem “different.” Children with disabilities are sometimes more likely to be bullied than children without disabilities.
First, let’s start with the definition of bullying. The word “bullying” is applied to a lot of different situations that may or may not necessarily meet the definition of bullying. Stopbullying.gov defines bullying as unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-age children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. The key in this definition are the words real or perceived power imbalance and the behavior is repeated over time.
Bullying is not when children have a conflict or argument. There are always going to be times when children do not get along with each other and situations of disagreement occur. This is part of healthy childhood development and teaches children the important skills of managing their emotions. It helps them develop coping skills.
Teachers play an important role in preventing true bullying and can create safe, bully-free zones in their classrooms. Teachers also are aware that students with disabilities are more likely to be bullied than students without disabilities and often are the first line of defense. Here are some tips on ways teachers can be proactive in preventing bullying of all students, with an emphasis on the unique needs of students with disabilities.
Be a champion of preventing bullying by making sure you know your school and district policies on bullying and work to make sure they are implemented. Resources are available to help district develop their local policies.
Teach students who have disabilities how to advocate for themselves. Help students who struggle with social skills to recognize when someone is being hurtful, and give them language to use to help them respond.
Teach students self-awareness and empathy through literature. Books like The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka or The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt teach self-awareness and review multiple sides of a conflict in a story or scenario. Literature with protagonists who have disabilities, like Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key by Jack Gantos, Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine and Wonder by R.J. Palacio are wonderful for building students’ awareness of specific disabilities. These stories also build empathy that transfers into real-world scenarios.
Build positive classroom climate
Create a positive class climate that is predictable, consistent and equitable. Take time at the start of and throughout the year to model problem-solving and communication. Go out of your way to recognize each student for his or her unique strengths and talents.
Let your students know you care about and respect them. Show your students you are available to listen and you want to help them.
Activities to promote prevention
Develop activities that focus on identifying bullying in books, TV shows and movies. Use teachable moments from these to discuss with your students the impact of bullying and how characters resolved it.
During morning meetings, empower students to talk about bullying and peer relations. It is important to allow students to take leadership roles in planning and leading the meetings to help them gain critical-thinking and problem-solving skills.
Teach students to be “upstanders”
Students need to know that when they don’t stop someone from bullying, they’re contributing to it. Teach your students to be upstanders by showing them how to quickly recognize bullying and basic techniques to stop it — like not creating an audience or inviting the victim into their group.
Share experiences through multimedia
Challenge students to create multimedia projects that express their thoughts, opinions and personal experiences with bullying. The technology encourages creativity and individualism, and the ability to share their experiences builds students’ communication and advocacy.
Supervise hot spots
We know bullying is more likely to occur when teachers aren’t watching. Figure out your school’s “hot spots” for bullying — the places with less supervision and more students. It is important to ask others in the building, such as custodians, office assistants, cafeteria workers and bus drivers where they see problems.
These tips are meant to begin the conversation on how we can make each and every child feel welcome and accepted in our schools. The actions and behaviors you demonstrate contribute to the success of every child. Always remember the power you have as an educator to make a difference in a child’s life.
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By: Guest Blogger
Most people agree all students deserve high-quality arts education that develops important skills needed to succeed in today’s competitive workforce. A nationwide public opinion poll conducted by Americans for the Arts this year showed that more than 90 percent of adults believed the arts should be taught throughout elementary, middle and high school. The skills developed through arts learning — collaboration and cooperation, problem identifying and problem-solving, decision-making, design thinking, articulation and critique, constructive communication — are the leadership skills identified as key attributes sought by employers around the world in the 21st century.
Since 1989, the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education, Ohio Arts Council and the Ohio Department of Education have worked together to gather data and periodically report on the status of arts education in Ohio’s schools. The logical extension of this work is to deliver the information in real time. These Ohio partner agencies now have engaged New Jersey-based Quadrant Research to help put annually updated arts education information in the hands of those who care about it most — parents, local school boards, teachers, students and other local stakeholders across the state.
The Ohio Arts Education Data Project launched in September 2018, and Ohio is proud to be among the first few states in the nation to provide online arts education data dashboards to the public!
The online dashboards allow the user to review school, district, county and statewide levels of arts education data. Interactive, color-coded dashboard displays show arts access and enrollment data as reported annually via the state’s Education Management Information System (EMIS) by 3,377 traditional public and community schools. Data for future school years will be added annually, allowing the project to show the status of arts education over time. Demographic data is from the National Center for Education Statistics.
The data for the 2016-2017 school year show:*
- Most students (98.3 percent) have access to some form of arts instruction, while 93 percent of students have access to both music and visual art.
- Eighty-four percent of all students participated in arts education courses. This represents more than 1,413,734 students.
- Participation in music (82 percent) and visual art (78 percent) were by far highest among the four artistic disciplines, which also include theatre and dance. Music and visual art are more widely available in Ohio schools. Out of the total student population, 1 percent participated in theater and fewer than 0.5 percent in dance.
- In 2017, there were 28,258 students, or 1.7 percent, who did not have access to any arts instruction. There were 117,750 students who did not have access to both music and art. However, between 2016 and 2017, there has been a 35 percent improvement (reduction) in the number students without access to any arts instruction.
- Student participation varies greatly between traditional public schools and community schools. In traditional public schools, 86 percent of students are enrolled in the arts as compared to 60 percent for community schools.
- The overall student-to-arts-teacher ratio in Ohio schools is 217 to 1. For visual art, the ratio is 412:1; for dance it is 762:1; for music it is 427:1; and for theater it is 933:1.
- Note that the data does not include any representation of arts instruction provided by non-school entities nor does it include extracurricular arts-based activities taking place in schools.
The project partners look forward to working with stakeholders throughout the state over time, using Ohio’s arts education data, to celebrate successes, identify areas of need, and facilitate sound research on the contributions of arts learning to overall student achievement and school success.
See Ohio Arts Education Data Project at: https://oaae.net/ohio-arts-education-data-project-introduction/
* Summary data and graphics above from:
Morrison, R., 2018. Arts Education Data Project Ohio Executive Summary Report (draft at time of submission)
Tim Katz joined the staff of the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education (OAAE) in 2012 and has been the executive director since 2014. Before that, he served for 15 years as the education director of the Greater Columbus Arts Council.
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By: Guest Blogger
Editor's note: This blog was originally published on Nov. 2, 2017 but some things are so good they deserve another look! Christa wrote this blog when she worked at the Cincinnati Department of Health. She is now the Senior Manager, External Relations for the Health Collaborative in Cincinnati. We are re-running the post so everyone gets a chance to learn about the HOPE curriculum.
I am not a teacher by profession, but I try my hardest to be a good one. I have great admiration for what classroom teachers do every single day across the world. Whether it was a part of previous positions I’ve had or currently in public health — teaching has always been an integral part of my work. In addition to teaching, I’ve had the opportunity to work with youth on prevention education curriculums ranging from tobacco to communicable disease. None have been as challenging as attempting to address the opioid epidemic.
I don’t claim to have all the answers to solve the opioid epidemic across this country, but I wish I did. It has torn apart families, crumbled portions of our workforce and completely rocked the medical community. This epidemic has no road map. There is no established, evidence-based practice that says if you do “x,” then you will receive “y” as a positive result.
As a public health professional, I try to think of ways to avoid adverse health outcomes. While this sounds oversimplified, prevention is the backbone of public health. Working for the Cincinnati Health Department, I am a witness to the constantly moving pieces of this epidemic — from endless overdose data, to potential policy changes, to Quick Response Teams and resource identification.
Working from different angles on this epidemic, I felt more could be done on the prevention side. I was fortunate to find an organization willing to fund a prevention initiative. My project is entitled Not Even Once. Not Even Once aims to implement the HOPE (Health and Opioid Prevention Education) curriculum at Oyler School. Oyler was strategically selected as a pilot site for HOPE due to the high number of overdoses in the surrounding neighborhood. Prevention curriculums like HOPE are key — key to saving lives, saving resources and most important, preventing youth from ever starting to abuse drugs.
What makes HOPE different is that it is the opposite of most anti-drug programs. It is pro-youth empowerment; pro-good decision-making; pro-self-respect. Kids are told, “No,” enough. This curriculum puts them in the driver’s seat of their own lives. It gives them the tools to use throughout their lives to build resiliency, self-respect and community awareness. It goes beyond basic knowledge, skills, behaviors and attitudes and turns it into functional health knowledge.
A few learning objectives of HOPE are:
- Understanding the components of healthy, safe and respectful choices;
- Identifying trusted adults;
- Knowing how to ask for help; and
- Understanding the differences between over-the-counter and prescription medicines.
I started teaching HOPE in June 2017 for ages 9-13 and will continue through December. From the moment the project began, I was astounded by the openness of the kids and their profound awareness of this epidemic right on their doorstep. One night a few weeks into class, my phone rang — it was a parent of a child in class, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Again, I was taken aback by her honesty. She stressed how difficult it is as a parent to talk to her children about what’s going on 15 feet from their doorstep. Instead, she tells her kids to “always stay inside” instead of playing at the park across the street.
Some people have told me that kids in certain drug-ridden parts of town are “lost causes.” I vehemently disagree with this, especially with my kids. Because they have HOPE. I believe in the village. I believe we will overcome this epidemic one day, with people who have rallied together to empower others to fully utilize talents to create a society of empathy.
This project would not be possible without the generosity of the Carol Ann & Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation, People’s Liberty and especially Dr. Kevin Lorson, Ohio Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance president and professor and Physical Education program director at Wright State University. I am eternally grateful that he was willing to take a chance on me to implement HOPE.
Christa Hyson works for the Health Collaborative in Cincinnati. Previously, she was a health communication specialist at the Cincinnati Health Department and project grantee for People’s Liberty. While at the Cincinnati Health Department, she combined her public health skills and youth prevention education to execute, Not Even Once. Click here to learn more about the Hope Curriculum.
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By: Virginia Ressa
Ohio recently hosted its first Future Ready Schools Institute, which I was lucky enough to attend. Prior to the institute, my knowledge of Future Ready was limited to an understanding that the focus was on personalizing student learning. As a specialist in the Office for Exceptional Children at the Ohio Department of Education, I was hoping to learn how the Future Ready Schools initiative supports teachers in meeting the needs of Ohio’s diverse learners, including our students with disabilities, gifted students and English learners. It turned out to be a great two days and well worth the travel and time away from the office. I learned more than I expected and was left thinking about how the Future Ready Framework and its focus on personalized student learning can help Ohio work toward supporting the whole child.
Future Ready Framework
The Future Ready Framework has seven key categories or “gears,” with personalized student learning at the center. The outside rings emphasize the cyclical nature of transformation and the importance of collaborative leadership. Check out the framework on the Future Ready Schools website.
What I like about this graphic is that personalized student learning is right there in the middle, at the center of all of those other important pieces that are essential to successful school improvement. The framework details how each of the gears supports the goal of personalized learning. Clicking through and reading the content in the Future Ready Framework is a bit daunting at first — there is a great deal of content to engage with. Self-assessments can be used to encourage leadership teams to question and analyze their current practices, an essential step to any improvement effort. You’ll also see links to many evidence-based resources, research reports and case studies of successful reforms. There are even rubrics to assess our adult practices! Another nice feature of the site is that the content links take you back to the ideas in the seven gears — a consistent reminder they are all connected.
Personalized Student Learning
Being at the center of the framework, personalized student learning is called out as having the greatest importance in this model. You might think defining personalized learning is easy or obvious, but a quick Google search told me otherwise. So, how do the folks at Future Ready Schools define personalized student learning? They offer a couple of different descriptions depending on which “gear” you are focused on — I like the description connected to Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment:
Educators leverage technology and diverse learning resources to personalize the learning experience for each student. Personalization involves tailoring content, pacing, and feedback to the needs of each student and empowering students to regulate and take ownership of some aspects of their learning.
I like how this description uses the phrase “learning experience” because it acknowledges that learning is ongoing and not a set of isolated events. The description also includes two high-impact, research-based formative instructional practices: feedback and student ownership of learning. However, the most important word in that description is “empowering.” We can and should empower our students to be active participants in planning, regulating and assessing their learning. Empowering students to participate in decision-making provides opportunities for students to reflect on their learning, think critically about their work, self-assess and determine next steps toward success.
Personalized Student Learning in Ohio
The State Board of Education and the Ohio Department of Education recently approved a strategic plan, Each Child, Our Future. One of the plan’s three core principles is equity, stressing that, “Appropriate supports must be made available so personal and social circumstances do not prohibit a child from reaching his or her greatest aspiration” (Ohio Department of Education, 2018, p. 10). A focus on personalized learning will accelerate Ohio’s work toward implementing the principle of equity.
Aligned with Ohio’s strategic plan, Future Ready Ohio is working to advance authentic, personalized learning experiences. Future Ready Ohio helps districts develop comprehensive plans to achieve successful student learning outcomes by 1) transforming instructional pedagogy and practice while 2) simultaneously leveraging technology to personalize learning in the classroom. Future Ready Schools and the Future Ready Ohio effort can help districts as they work to contribute to Ohio’s strategic plan.
I encourage not only educators, but families and community members as well, to learn more about Future Ready Ohio. Did I mention the FREE resources available? Free self-assessments and rubrics are available to assist districts with creating and implementing action plans focused on empowering students to be ready for the future. I’ve just touched on one aspect of the framework — there is so much more to learn about the resources available to Ohio districts. For more information, contact Stephanie Donofe Meeks, the director of Ohio’s Future Ready work, and be sure to read her excellent blog posts.
Virginia Ressa is an education program specialist at the Ohio Department of Education, where she focuses on helping schools and educators meet the needs of diverse learners through professional learning. You can learn more about Virginia by clicking here.
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By: Guest Blogger
Editor's Note: September is Attendance Awareness Month. A few weeks ago, staff blogger Brittany Miracle shared tips for districts to improve attendance in their schools. This week, we hear from a career center that recognized the importance of student attendance and created a program to improve attendance.
Twenty-one days — the amount of time research shows a person needs to establish a new habit. That’s the foundation of a strategy to improve student attendance at Scarlet Oaks Career Campus in Cincinnati.
Scarlet Oaks launched Play 21 in 2017 to help students be more accountable for attending school consistently. The concept is simple; students sign a chart in their first and second period classes and when they’ve reached 21 consecutive days of attendance, they can enter a drawing for prizes. Posters around campus serve as reminders of the program.
At the end of the quarter, prizes are awarded to 21 students whose names are drawn. The prizes are relatively small: $10 gift cards, special parking privileges or early release to lunch, for instance. Recognition, though, is a real motivator. The school posts the winners’ names on video monitors throughout the campus.
Through Play 21:
- Students can see their progress each day and know when they’re reaching the 21-day goal;
- Students who falter—who miss a day during that period—can start over and still succeed during any given academic quarter;
- Students who win prizes get public recognition for their success;
- Students develop new habits.
“We’re trying to change the culture from punitive to positive,” said English instructor Stephen Tracy. That is, instead of focusing on punishing those who miss school, the Scarlet Oaks staff celebrates those who attend regularly.
The Scarlet Oaks Attendance Committee, comprised of a group of instructors (both academic and career technical), administrators, a counselor, a custodian and a cybrarian (librarian), wanted to eliminate the mindset that schools take for granted that students will attend. “Some of our students have barriers they have to overcome just to get to school in the morning,” said Roger Osborne, an exercise science instructor.
Osborne said Play 21 helps to provide an incentive for students to give extra effort. One student, for instance, missed the school bus but paid for an Uber ride to get to school on time.
And though Play 21 resulted in 10 students having perfect attendance in 2017-2018, that’s not necessarily the only goal. “We’re recognizing good, improved AND perfect attendance to school,” said Assistant Dean Ramona Beck.
Play 21 takes a holistic approach to attendance, combining student responsibility, teacher encouragement and administrative support. “The sign-in sheet is a daily check for both the teacher and student,” Beck said.
The hope is that, in just 21 days, students are developing good habits for a lifetime.
“They’ll be going to work when they leave us,” said Osborne. “We’ve got to get them ready. This aligns with our mission of preparing students for real life.”
Jon Weidlich is director of Community Relations at Great Oaks Career Campuses in Southwest Ohio. He has worked with and written about students of all ages, as well as schools, parents and communities for more than 25 years. Contact him at email@example.com.
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By: Staff Blogger
I have a 2-year-old and 5-year-old at home, and I often feel that much of parenting involves making up semi-reasonable answers to a continuous stream of questions. I do this with the hope that my kids don’t realize I am just figuring this parenting thing out as I go. Currently, “Why?” and “How does that work?” are among the most popular questions. Recently, I am getting follow-up questions like “How do you know?” or — on far too many occasions — “Why don’t you know?”
If I am being honest, I cannot say that I am always patient with my kids’ questions, which can range from the existential, “What is the meaning of life?” variety to “Why can’t you find that one tiny Lego piece that is essential for my current creation?” Sometimes I get both questions in the span of one breath. “Mommy just doesn’t have all the answers, dear” is sometimes the best I can muster.
Fortunately, there are days when I can take a step back and appreciate how amazing it is to be born with this curiosity and desire to learn about how things work in the world. In those moments, I remember how important it is to encourage my children to ask their questions and, beyond simply providing answers, I can teach them how to find answers.
I’m a bit of a research and data geek, so I find it exciting to consider how my children are natural researchers, constantly collecting evidence and information. I sincerely hope they will keep this curiosity as they grow, using it not only to enrich their own lives but also to benefit others.
As professionals in the education field, we should all get in the habit of asking questions, seeking out answers and then applying what we learn. Doing so is a powerful practice that lies at the very heart of continuous improvement in education. True continuous improvement requires a commitment to working, every day, to improve all students’ educational experiences, opportunities and outcomes.
Ohio’s Empowered by Evidence initiative celebrates that power and aims to support Ohio’s educators as they seek answers to the important questions about education in Ohio’s districts and schools. Consider the following questions, fundamental to continuous improvement:
- In our state, in our districts, in our schools and classrooms, what are our students’ most critical needs?
- What are the ways we can meet those needs?
- Are some options for meeting those needs better than others?
- Once we decide how we are going to address a need, how will we know whether we are successful?
As significant as these questions and their answers are, equally important is how do we know? What is the evidence — or the proof — that what we believe to be true is true? What is the evidence that we will use to support the decisions we make to improve education? And how will we know the steps we’re taking to improve student outcomes are working?
Think of all the things that Ohio’s educators do every day to support Ohio’s students. When every day is an opportunity to give the best supports possible to each student in Ohio, it is critical the decisions we’re making and the actions we’re taking to do so are evidence based.
Evidence-based strategies are those things that educators are doing that have been evaluated, through high-quality research, and proven to work. When educators use evidence-based strategies to address their students’ needs, they can be confident those strategies will work.
Ohio’s Evidence-Based Clearinghouse is available to everyone as part of the Empowered by Evidence initiative. It is a new collection of resources designed to help educators connect to evidence-based strategies to support their students. It brings the power of research — asking and answering questions about what works in education — to Ohio’s educators in a meaningful and actionable way. The clearinghouse sheds light on the use of evidence-based strategies, helps educators find evidence-based strategies that fit their needs and offers information on resources developed by other national clearinghouses.
Using evidence-based strategies can go a long way toward enabling success for each student. Ohio is committed to assisting educators in this effort and ensuring Ohio’s Evidence-Based Clearinghouse will serve as a dynamic and growing resource for educators in Ohio’s schools.
Heather Boughton is the director of the Office of Research, Evaluation and Advanced Analytics at the Ohio Department of Education. She believes in the power of data to tell stories that will shed light on education in Ohio. She works to empower educators to use information, data and research to improve education for Ohio’s students. To contact Heather, click here.
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By: Staff Blogger
Mark your calendars!
September is National Attendance Awareness Month. Regular school attendance is so important it gets an entire month of recognition and celebration! (Not that National Taco Day on Oct. 4 isn’t cause for celebration, too.)
Did you know?
- Good attendance is important starting in kindergarten. Children with good attendance in kindergarten and first grade are more likely to read on grade level in third grade.
- By grade 6, poor attendance can be an early warning sign for students at risk of dropping out of school.
- By ninth grade, good attendance can predict graduation rates even better than eighth-grade test scores.
- A student’s attendance in the previous year can predict his or her attendance in the current school year.
Students miss school for many reasons. They may be absent sporadically due to illnesses, college visits or planned family events. Other students may face more significant barriers to regular attendance resulting in more frequent and long-term absences. Some absences may be excused and others are unexcused. Regardless of the reason for the absence, every day in school matters because some lessons cannot be made up at home.
Attendance has a significant impact on achievement throughout a student’s school career. How can schools help students get to school regularly? It’s simple — talk with your students and families about the value of regular school attendance!
Building a school culture that recognizes the importance of regular and improved attendance, rather than perfect attendance, keeps students’ eyes on the prize throughout the entire year. Schools can provide individualized resources and friendly reminders about regular attendance to empower students and families to improve their school attendance.
September is a great time to start talking about attendance with your students and their families and caregivers. Use these tips when writing attendance messaging for your school:
- Mode: Share your message using a variety of methods, such as social media, email, radio ads, postcards, magnets and newspaper ads.
- Partnerships: Emphasize that schools and families are partners who share a common interest in students’ success. Build partnerships throughout your entire community to share your attendance messaging.
- Comparison: Use charts, graphs and positive language to show individuals how their attendance is changing over time or how it compares to their peers. This is effective when communicating with a student about individual attendance or when encouraging friendly competitions between classrooms to meet attendance goals.
- Individualize: Consider students’ unique needs when talking with students and families about how to improve attendance.
- Accumulation: Highlight that a couple of absences per month add up over the course of the year.
- Self-efficacy: Focus messaging on how parents influence their children’s attendance. Empower older students to adopt strategies to improve their own attendance.
- Simplification: Write in friendly language that is easy to understand and free of legal jargon.
- Frequency: Communicate early and often — before students develop attendance problems — to underscore the importance of getting to school regularly. Start your messaging with the first day of school and continue through the end of the year.
Check out Attendance Works’ website to see which districts across the nation are participating in National Attendance Awareness Month and get ideas to promote attendance in your school. Share your attendance activities with us this month and all year long on social media by tagging @OHEducation on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
Brittany Miracle is a program administrator at the Ohio Department of Education. She coordinates school improvement initiatives and student support strategies—including efforts to improve student attendance. To contact Brittany, click here.
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By: Guest Blogger
When I was a classroom teacher, I was always looking for ways to catch and keep the attention of my students. High school social studies combines a subject that most students find “old” with the battle to be interesting to teenagers who have unending entertainment at their fingertips.
My goal was to bring to life a subject I felt was important in developing well-rounded students, with hopes they would become benevolent global citizens. But, that wasn’t always easy. With a background of history and theatre in my blood, I did all I could to make my classroom come alive — multimedia, games, activities, music, drama, even dressing up like historical figures — and while I was successful more often than not, the experience was sometimes nothing short of a Herculean challenge.
No longer in the classroom, I have the advantage of reflecting on what I could have done differently to liven up the high school history class. If I had known then what I know now about the capability to bring live, interactive experiences into my classroom, I may have spared myself the experience of dressing up like Napoleon Bonaparte (he’s not that short – we’re about the same height).
In Ohio, we are fortunate to have OARnet’s dedicated and robust digital backbone to connect to almost every student, classroom and educator. Every day, students and classrooms are connecting through live, interactive video with content, classes and educators from all walks of life and in every corner of the globe. State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria has told us he “believes in the power of video,” and we can bring that power to all Ohio classrooms and students.
Students in the Buckeye state can take College Credit Plus courses in their schools with teachers and professors from anywhere in Ohio. Classrooms can visit the Underground Railroad with the Ohio History Connection or experiment with kitchen chemistry alongside the team at COSI. Students looking to learn more about careers or earning the OhioMeansJobs-Readiness Seal can talk live with professionals in career fields across the spectrum. If a school wants to offer Mandarin Chinese or American Sign Language, it can give students the opportunity through live classes from a distance.
Hindsight has enlightened me to the fact that while I was doing everything I could to ignite the fire of excitement for learning in my students, I could have been working smarter to open a whole new world to my students through live, interactive education. The goal of education is to show students what the world has to offer and prepare them for success in that world. With the state of Ohio’s live, interactive capabilities, that can be done with the click of a mouse.
At the Broadcast Educational Media Commission, we can get you connected. Get in touch with us at any time at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 877-VIDEO-40 (877-843-3640). You also can learn more at our website, broadcast.ohio.gov, and learn more about distance learning options through the OhioDLA at ohiodla.org.
Jarrod Weiss is the chief of Operations at the Ohio Broadcast Educational Media Commission and a former high school social studies teacher in rural Southwest Ohio. You can follow him on Twitter @GreatWeissOne.
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By: Jonathan Juravich
My 5-year-old daughter loves routines. And bedtime is when routines reign supreme. There is the bath, new pajamas, brushing teeth, talking about our favorite parts of the day, two books, two songs and lights out. Every night, this same order of events leads her to know that regardless of whether the sun is still up or not, it is time for bed.
There are two pieces of this routine that are my favorite. The stories. As my daughter tells me about her favorite part of the day, I hear about her friends, their preschool hijinks, the kindness of teachers or the harrowing adventures on the playground. Sometimes she tells me that eating dinner as a family was her favorite moment or how her baby brother gave her the stink eye and she can’t stop laughing about it. Regardless, Josie uses descriptive language as she recounts the details to make me feel included.
And then, I read to her from books. Since her birth, I have delighted in reading her my favorites — “Where the Wild Things Are,” “The Wizard of Oz” and all things written by Mo Willems. Through these books and many others, I can open her world up to adventure, imagination, possibilities and life. Her head resting on my shoulder — she hangs on each word.
Why do we love stories so much? They engage us, they challenge us, they ignite thinking and dreaming. They make us feel included and open our eyes to new experiences and ways of seeing. Stories are important.
As the 2018 Ohio Teacher of the Year, I took part in a formal induction with the other incredible state teachers of the year. Time and time again, we were challenged to tell our stories. As educators, we all have them.
Stories that are hilarious, teachers dressed in sumo suits rolling across the gym floor after their students met a fundraising goal.
Stories that are heartbreaking, a friendship bracelet shared with me from a student with pediatric cancer who said, “We will be best friends forever, as long as that is.”
And stories that are downright inspirational, the student with autism who found her voice through cartoon illustrations thanks to the support of her teachers who saw her as an individual.
Stories are meant to be shared. To tell our families, our circle of friends, the community, lawmakers and other educators about the important work we do every day. It is one thing to share a funny story, but what about the why? What are you trying to highlight, advocate for or change? Through storytelling, we advocate for our profession and for one another. See, stories make things personal. It is one thing to share data, numbers, pie charts…but narratives about the successes of real-life students and educators are truly powerful.
It might mean making reflection and journaling a part of your nightly routine, so you don’t forget the stories of the day. Or taking a moment to sit and gather a repertoire of narratives that you want to make sure you share with others. Take time to think about those students who have made a direct impact on you, those teachers who have inspired you to be the educator you are today, those pieces of personal history that brought you to the field. Write them down, think them through, internalize the important facts, characters and resulting outcomes.
For this school year, I am stepping away from my classroom to work as a teacher-in-residence at the Ohio Department of Education. During this time, I will be sure to share the stories of the exceptional educators and students the Department’s work influences. I look forward to connecting with teachers throughout the state and sharing our unique stories.
We all need to take a moment to stop, reflect and then share. Because these stories, these pivotal moments, should remind us why we joined this remarkable field of education.
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Last Modified: 5/17/2019 3:20:37 PM