Lead Through Crisis Together

Distance and hybrid learning have presented innumerable challenges. Teachers who are scrambling to adjust their lessons using new technologies often lack clear information on best practices. Parents are managing careers while trying to ensure that their children continue to engage with their education. The youngest learners are trying to sit in front of a computer for hours when they would learn best through play. Staff are working around the clock to ensure that children and families have what they need to get by, from having food on the table to putting a rent check in the mail.

Op-ed: New Teaching Standards Will Make Classrooms More Inclusive

Illinois now has an opportunity to set the standard for all teacher preparation programs in the state to ensure that their candidates develop the skills to be responsive, supportive and affirming to all their students. Over the past two years, Josh Kaufmann worked with a team of Illinois educators, including Teach Plus Policy Fellows in the teacher leadership program he directed, to develop the new Culturally Responsive Teaching and Leading Standards, which await final approval later this month. The guidelines, proposed by the Illinois State Board of Education, should be approved and implemented faithfully by our schools of education.

So Little Time

Like educational professionals at all levels, APs have a lot on their plates. Not only are they tasked with supporting the principal in running their buildings, but they also take on specific subsets of school responsibilities by grade level, subject matter, and administrative specialty. Add the hundreds of variables they deal with in the form of students, families, teachers, and staff—not to mention the challenges of performing the job at a distance during the pandemic—and the AP’s role can get very complicated, very quickly.

Ready to Implement: A Toolkit for Out-of-School Practitioners

With the support of the Wallace Foundation and the Susan Crown Exchange, AIR is developing a tool that enables OST practitioners to (1) measure their readiness to implement new initiatives and (2) access resources and professional learning that are aligned with their level of readiness. It is our goal to support the OST field—that is, organizations and individuals—in building readiness and undertaking effective change management in preparation for and during implementation.

How Texas Teachers Are Prioritizing Basic Skills as Instruction Time Gets Crunched During the Pandemic

San Antonio teachers are combatting pandemic learning loss with a surgical approach to keep young students at grade level, focusing on a core curriculum of must-have skills in reading and math. They have identified a strategic set of skills for kindergarten through second graders, such as phonics and arithmetic, so that students build the mastery needed to move on to the next grade. Teachers are relying on learning apps and online tools – something they don’t generally do in a normal year because it’s more effective to design and teach the lessons themselves.

Three Urgent Questions the Pandemic Raises for Researchers

Researchers can play a role in helping us learn from the missteps of 2020—and the missteps taken long before the coronavirus swept across our land that made our system particularly vulnerable to its ravages. These include, but of course are not limited to, linking school assignment to geography, which exacerbates inequality; centralizing control over the education of children in a given area in one institution (the traditional school district), which creates a single failure point that can scupper the education of every child in the area; and bureaucratizing education to such a degree that it is hard to move nimbly to adjust to rapidly changing circumstances.

Transforming the Culture of Education: Improving Teacher Working Conditions

This 30-minute documentary explores how districts and schools can create supportive working environments for teachers. In this documentary, teacher working conditions are defined as school environmental factors that influence teacher job satisfaction. This documentary focuses on three elements of teacher working conditions: leading schools to success, empowering teachers through leadership, and creating meaningful professional development.

To Achieve Equity, Build a Diverse Workforce

Research shows that establishing a diverse workforce is key to closing student achievement and opportunity gaps. Teachers who are of the same race as their students are especially suited to understand students’ cultural experiences and, therefore, are likely to employ instructional practices responsive to cultural strengths (Villegas & Irvine, 2010). A diverse workforce is associated with improved academic outcomes on standardized tests, attendance, retention, advanced-level course enrollment, graduation rates, and college-entrance rates for students of color (Villegas & Davis, 2008; Villegas & Irvine, 2010).

The Leaders We Need Now Study

The National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and AIR have launched the Leaders We Need Now study to examine how principals’ work has changed—and needs to shift—in 2021 and beyond. Over 200 public elementary school principals from across the United States will talk about the actions that they have taken to support schools through COVID-19, how they believe that their work has indelibly changed, and what states, districts, and others can do to better support principals now and in the future. With financial support from The Joyce Foundation, the Leaders We Need Now study is currently recruiting principals from the 17,000 elementary principals within NAESP. The project will release several briefs in spring and summer, 2021.