Over the last few weeks Rethink had the wonderful opportunity to attend and present at multiple conferences across the US. In addition to all the amazing take-aways from the presentations and panels we attended, we also learned a little something about ourselves: we are indeed conference gurus. Are you a one too? If you can answer yes to the following, join the club!
You have successfully set up a monster booth at least once in your career
If you have ever lugged huge “booth carriers” across country, completed a full workout getting all the components out and ready to put together, and then spent 2 hours trying to work out how everything fits together … you might be a conference guru!
To avoid throwing out our backs, the Rethink team wisely decided to take a more subtle approach to our booth. We kept it simple with our Rethink banner and our own smiling faces. We met lots of current customers and hopefully future partners and had some great conversations.
You are prepared with both summer and winter attire depending on the whims of the hotel air-conditioning
If you ever had to carefully plan and are prepared with your attire and wardrobe to allow for significant temperature changes in short periods of time (often in the same workshop session) … you might be a conference guru!
Thankfully the Rethink team came prepared for anything and managed to keep our body temperatures relatively stable with just the right mix of summer/winter attire!
You have breathed a sigh of relief when people actually attend your presentation session
If you have experienced slight panic or anxiety attacks with the thought that you will be the only presenter at the conference who has no one show up to their presentation … you might be a conference guru!
You willingly give up your holiday weekend to advance your knowledge and learning while sitting in uncomfortable seats and eating overpriced hotel food
Yep! That’s us–walking 15,000 steps (or approximately 7 miles per day) from classroom to classroom and even spending some sessions seated on the floor, all in the name of knowledge!
Why do we do it you ask? The answer is simple: we are passionate about our field and consider the chance to advance our knowledge of value to ourselves, the places we work, and the children and students we support. See you all next year for more of the same!
The world is changing, and data can now be collected electronically, on the fly with an app and a portable device such as a tablet or phone. In the last decade, we have all lived through the movement from paper medical records to digital and the medical community is reaping the benefits. Now is the time for Education to take the next step and join the revolution.
Digital data management is here to stay but as educators and school systems move from paper to digital, some are approaching this frontier with gritted teeth.
Special education is data rich especially when it comes to progress monitoring IEP goals and objectives. Special educators develop IEP documentation, including IEP goals and objectives. These documents are stored digitally, but educators must also collect data to progress monitor and evaluate student’s achievement of their IEP goals and objectives. Historically, this data has been collected by pencil and paper, graphed by hand or more recently graphed in excel – it was A LOT of work and still is!
You may be thinking: Why Should I care?What are the benefits to digital data collection? There are 5 major benefits of digital data collection:
Data is analyzed instantly! With electronic data collection the data can be graphed and analyzed instantly. No more calculating by hand and moving data into a spreadsheet.
More Time to spend on other projects! Every teacher wants more time, using digital data collection for progress monitoring can buy you some valuable time.
Say goodbye to transfer errors! We all like to think that we are perfect but transcribing numbers from paper to a spreadsheet leaves room for error.
It’s green! You won’t have endless stacks of papers that need to be shredded and recycled.
Timely Instructional Decisions! Simply press the record button and data analysis is available immediately. No more waiting until the end of the quarter to adjust instruction. Instructional decisions can be made in a timely manner for maximum benefit.
Join the revolution, start collecting your data digitally!
The educational system values and uses data to inform everything from the evaluation of individual students and entire school districts to educator’s performance-based pay and the success of curriculum. Teachers play a role in every single one of those decisions, yet teachers are often not comfortable with data analysis. In fact, 72% of districts cited lack of teacher preparation as a barrier to increased use of data systems. With so many benefits of digital data collection (think less time on IEP documentation!) it is vital that teachers, specifically special educators, start increasing their understanding of data-based decision-making.
Here are 5 simple steps you can make towards becoming a data analyst AND a better teacher:
Write measurable goals and objectives
Develop a data collection system and collect data
Represent the data visually (usually with a graph)
Evaluate the data
Adjust instruction as guided by the data
Step 3 is an important one: Represent the data visually (usually with a graph)
It is difficult to analyze data if it is not represented visually. Graphs help define what is happening. For example, graph one instantly demonstrates the progress and learning a student is making.
In the graph below, we can quickly determine that the students’ performance is variable and learning really isn’t occurring. With graphs you can evaluate the data (step 4) and adjust instruction (step 5) as guided by the data to better meet student needs. In this below example, the teacher can look at the instructional experience the student is having and discern what is inhibiting his learning.
If you’ve been to a conference, spoken with colleagues, or read the news lately, you’ve probably been hearing quite a lot about Social Emotional Learning, or SEL. SEL helps students by promoting self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. If you don’t already love SEL, here are 6 reasons why you should:
Students learn how to deal with complex emotions. Navigating emotions can be difficult, especially for children and teens. In fact, a child or teen commits suicide every 3 hours and 33 minutes. One of the major focuses of SEL programs is to help students successfully regulate their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in different scenarios. This helps students change their way of thinking to better manage stress, motivate themselves, and make better decisions.
Teachers feel less stressed. According to a recent survey, 73% of educators report feeling stressed often at work, and 24% report feeling sometimes stressed at work. These educators also report feeling emotionally or physically exhausted at the end of the day. SEL programs can help improve student success, which certainly helps reduce educator stress. Additionally, educators can benefit from improving their own SEL skills, by learning how to manage stress, make better decisions, and communicate with others more effectively.
SEL provides schools with a bullying prevention toolkit. Students who are bullied are twice as likely as their non-bullied peers to develop negative health effects. According to the CDC, defiant & disruptive behaviors are associated with engaging in bullying behavior, while poor peer relationships & low self-esteem are associated with a higher likelihood of being bullied. SEL programs help students improve their ability to empathize and take the perspective of others, respect others, negotiate conflict, and seek help when needed. SEL programs also help to increase self-confidence.
Students are more employable. According to a recent report, employers are looking for employees who have strong communication skills, are self-motivated, able to solve problems independently, and work well with others. These are all skills SEL programs focus on!
Students are less likely to be incarcerated. A longitudinal study found that the level of aggression exhibited by children at the age of eight is a strong predictor of criminal events over the next 22 years. With current statistics showing that a student is arrested every 31 seconds, we should all be looking at strategies to prevent conduct problems & reduce aggression in our schools. SEL programs help students develop impulse control, respect others, and make ethical decisions.