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McREL.org

Why we’re all hearing about ‘accelerating learning’ as in-person school resumes

The phrase “learning loss” came under criticism shortly after it started being used to describe what students experienced as a result of remote and hybrid learning during the last 18 months. With the pandemic already exacerbating a long list of educational inequities, the thinking goes, the last thing kids need is to be told they have lost something that it was not in their power to gain. I’m among those who think the phrase “learning loss,” along with its purported solution, “remediation,” can cause more problems than they solve. They epitomize deficit thinking, which can be perceived as accusatory by those on the receiving end—an impediment to engagement that can lead students and families to turn their backs on school. There’s also ample evidence that remediation is terrible at helping students learn and progress. This is why we’ve all been hearing about “accelerating learning” lately.

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What to Do With Instructional Coaches? Let Them Coach!

As schools make plans to return to in-person instruction in the fall, many are having crucial conversations about how to best use their staff resources to support students. One of these conversations centers on how to use instructional coaches in the upcoming year. As many coaches are considered “teachers on special assignment” and occupy a teacher’s salary, school leaders have begun to ask if there are better uses for their coaches. But coaching is an investment that benefits the quality of teaching throughout an entire school or district.

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Balanced Leadership for Student Learning: A 2021 Update of McREL’s Research-Based School Leadership Development Program

Teachers are surrounded by the greatest professional development resource ever created: other teachers. So, doesn’t it make sense to team up for mutual support and growth? In this white paper, we describe the research that supports peer coaching and lay out the components of an effective coaching triad, with participants taking turns coaching, being coached, and observing. While school leadership can promote an environment that values and encourages trusting working relationships, the real work of coaching needs to be planned and executed by teachers themselves, the authors say.

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Recovering from interrupted learning: Establishing routines that welcome students and families

We have all been through a very difficult, traumatic year-plus. The transition back to in-person school this spring or in the fall is an important time to strengthen and forge relationships—to rebuild routines and rituals or make new ones to create a community at school. It is a critical opportunity for educators to address attendance in a meaningful way. Educators can provide clear structures and expectations that say, We want to see you every day and help students and families get back into a regular routine of showing up to class.

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Recovering from interrupted learning: Social-emotional learning can transform past trauma into future strength

We often view damage—for example, in a car, home, or relationship—as something beyond repair. Or if repaired, it may never again be as good as new. Without a doubt, many students have experienced trauma during this pandemic. They may have been forced to move, gone hungry or faced food insecurity, watched helplessly as parents lost their jobs, seen relationships fray, and experienced their own raft of powerful emotions. Yet it’s important that we—and they—see that they need not be permanently damaged by these experiences, and I believe that social-emotional learning (SEL) can help accomplish this.

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Recovering from interrupted learning: Minimizing the impact of the COVID pandemic on children and staff

At long last, the end of the pandemic may finally be in sight. As of this writing, COVID-19 is not yet behind us, but we can at least see some breaks in the clouds, so to speak. Vaccines are now widely available, infection rates are dropping in many places, and more schools are back to in-person learning—or planning now to be back next school year. Soon, we will re-emerge from the pandemic and, like after any storm, we’ll begin to survey the aftermath. In an upcoming series of blog posts, we’ll explore some key areas educators should consider as they return to in-person teaching and learning—sharing insights from research and our positive approach to help you see and build on spots in your own schools and classrooms.

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How educators and ed-tech developers can hear one another

Billions of COVID-19 relief dollars are en route from the federal government to American school districts, and much of that money is likely to be spent on ed-tech interventions designed to help students regain ground. With this much money on the line—and, more importantly, the urgency of helping students deepen and accelerate their learning—educators and developers need to avoid talking past one another or getting lost in jargon.

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McREL expands Pacific presence with new advisers and offices

April 20, 2021 | Denver, CO—McREL International is pleased to announce the addition of four new staff as regional advisers in the Pacific region and the opening of two satellite offices, expanding the organization’s capacity and commitment to supporting local educators, students, and communities. The regional advisers will conduct local needs sensing and contextualization of McREL’s services, and will deliver training, coaching, and technical support services to teachers, principals, school system leaders, and other stakeholders.

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