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Summer School to Look Different in the Pandemic

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This article was written originally for MultiBriefs Education.
Summer school is underway in my New Hampshire high school, but it looks a little different from what we have offered in years past, although we have always offered a remote platform. For my school, an in-person summer school is just not practical due to our size, limited staffing resources, and lack of public transportation for students. For years we have relied on online platforms such as Edgenuity and VLACS to provide content and, in some cases, instructors. Our staff have always provided remote technology support. This year, we took a slightly different approach for summer offerings. We added an option for teachers to award a grade of IP (In-Progress) to students who, due to the pandemic, weren’t able to produce sufficient evidence for teachers to award a final course grade and credit when the remote school year ended, but might be able to reach the finish line if they have access to additional time in the summer and a c…

Even in a Pandemic, Grades Matter!

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This article was written originally for MultiBriefs Education.
Fellow school principals, I’m calling on each of you to take action with grading reform in your schools. We need grades that matter, and we need them now!
Last month, I participated in a Zoom call with fifty fellow high school principals from my state as we all discussed the pros and cons of reverting to a pass/fail grading system to close out the 2019-2020 school year. The rationale for moving to such a system now was born from the growing concern among educators that current grades and grading practices in remote learning systems are not an accurate measure of student learning and would likely penalize and hurt students if such drastic measures were not put into place. Interestingly, on the call that day there emerged two types of responses. Principals working in schools that had already implemented a competency-based system (and thus, grading reforms) were, overall, not interested in making use of a pass/fail system. Prin…

On Equity: How the Pandemic May Impact Schools in the Future

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This article was written originally for MultiBriefs Education.
As our nation prepares to enter a third month of altered operations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, an alarming reality is starting to give rise amongst policy makers, educators, and parents alike: When it comes to equity, many schools and school systems may in fact be worse off than they may have originally thought, and it will get worse before it gets better.
For many educators from coast to coast, the pandemic seemingly arrived without warning, paralyzing schools and school districts in mid-March. As a New Hampshire high school principal, I remember ending a normal week of school on Friday March 13. By Sunday night, I was sending notices to my families that the school facilities were to be closed effective immediately and my staff and I would need a few days to put together our temporary plan to continue instruction through remote learning. In that plan, we would attempt to address issues related to instruction, mea…

Is It Time For Higher Ed to Move Away From Time-Based Learning?

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This article was written originally for MultiBriefs Education.
As he approaches fifteen years of age, my son Brady has now started reminding me regularly that he will be able to drive soon. In the State of New Hampshire, the law will require him to complete 46 hours of drivers education (including classroom, driving, and observation hours) before he can be eligible for a drivers license. Why does the state treat every young driver the same? I know plenty of young drivers who can demonstrate proficiency with their driving skills after half that number of hours. I know plenty more that need double, perhaps even triple those minimum hours. For a life or death skill such as driving a car, why do we continue to rely on such an antiquated, one-size-fits-all training and assessment model? The Department of Motor Vehicles, much like our colleges and universities, could learn a thing or two from high schools that have moved away from time-based models.
For years, schools have relied on a time-ba…

How Can Educators Promote Self-Direction and Independence in Remote Learning?

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This article was written originally for MultiBriefs Education.
Remote learning is not a new concept in education. For many years, it went by the terms “distance” or “correspondence” learning. With the increase of online technology options at the turn of the millenium, the terms “virtual” and “online” learning became more prevalent. Over the years, some students have thrived in these environments while others have not. My own fourteen year old Brady is a great example. This past summer, he opted to take an online class at New Hampshire’s online school VLACS. He found that he struggled, but not because he couldn’t handle the academic work. His struggle came from what we discovered to be gaps in his command of self-direction and independence, a real-world skill that educators have wrestled with for years to find ways to help students master. Historically, students have been able to choose whether or not they want to learn in a remote/distance/virtual environment or not. For many students,…

Incorporating the U.S. Census Into Classroom Instruction

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This article was written originally for MultiBriefs Education.
The decennial tradition, a time when our country takes an official “count” of its population, has arrived! The census is used for apportionment (a process to determine the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives). It is also used to distribute billions in federal funds to local communities. The census has been conducted every 10 years since the first one in 1790. Back then, a simple six-question survey was used to count approximately 3.9 million Americans living in our young country. Fast forward to current day, and the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that the 2020 count will gather statistics for our country’s growing population of around 330 million people in more than 140 million housing units. The statistics collected will influence a wide variety of decisions for years to come.
Like most school principals around the country, earlier this year I received a package in the mail from the U.S. Censu…

Helping Graduating Seniors Cope With COVID-19’s Impact

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This article was written originally for MultiBriefs Education.
The COVID-19 crisis of 2020, with unprecedented calls by states for social distancing and remote learning in schools from coast to coast, has left our teens feeling helpless, especially our soon to be high school graduates. As educators, we need to help them through this difficult time. Consider the situation through their eyes, in an open letter that I have written to them.
Dear Class of 2020 Graduates,
This was unexpected. As adults, we can try to say that we know what you are going through. We can try to tell you to look on the bright side and be thankful for what you have. We can remind you that you can still talk to your friends online. The reality is, we don’t really know what you are going through. The COVID-19 crisis of 2020 has profoundly changed the way our society operates right now and for you, the timing couldn’t be any worse.
You are supposed to be entering into your final weeks before graduation. There should b…