Starting Out on the Right Foot

Many NGLC breakthrough school model grantees from Waves IIIa and IV were on hand last week at the iNACOL symposium to learn from one another and share their accomplishments and challenges. Here are five tips taken from conversations among educators from schools that have been open one year or less.

On-boarding Students: To foster a culture of self-directed learning with students you have to be intentional.  Dedicate time and design structures not only for the start of the school year but also continuing throughout the year. Provide an orientation that includes the protocols and tools students will need and use to begin thinking and behaving differently. 

On-boarding Teachers: For teachers to feel on the same team they’ll need a common language, so whether you’re recruiting from all over the country or just your backyard, make an effort to define the terms for learning in your school and include your parents and other stakeholders in the process.

Digital Content: Many schools use a variety of digital content from multiple providers.  Single sign-on is ideal but if it’s not possible right away then consider developing a policy or guidelines around single point of contact, account provisioning, and specific professional development processes for teacher-led selection and adoption.

Digital Assessment: In next gen schools, students learn Common Core standards, engage in college-going academic preparation, and develop skills such as collaboration, critical thinking and initiative—all measured with different assessments. Develop a plan from the outset of what evidence of learning to collect, when, and how to review and use the information with students.

Fire-fighting Operational Issues: As schools make greater investments in digital equipment, they can become targets for theft and vandalism. And, in older buildings a more substantial plan may be needed to retrofit and ensure sufficient connectivity. Make a plan for securing and charging devices (employing local law enforcement if need be) and engage teachers in planning for system outages (they will happen). 

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