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An Innovative Journey: Use of Total Physical Response (TPR) in an Online Classroom during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Ed Prep Matters features the “AACTE Teacher Stories,” series to spotlight the experiences of K-12 educators who are attending or are alumni of AACTE member institutions. AACTE invites preservice and in-service school teachers to reflect on how they are applying the practices, frameworks, and strategies they acquired during their educator preparation program (EPP) studies to assure student success.  Email stories to knorfleet@aacte.org.

This article is authored by Michael A. Chuntz, a 5th grade math, science, and social studies teacher at Somerset Intermediate School in North Plainfield, NJ. This story was nominated by Heejung An, his master’s thesis advisor at the College of Education, William Paterson University of New Jersey, where he obtained his master’s degree in May 2021.

Boy using laptop to complete math assignment

Let’s face it, most of us taught to black boxes the entirety of the 2020-2021 school year. Were our students even there? Were they aimlessly scrolling through TikTok the entire class? Were they sleeping? Or were they taking care of their younger siblings while their family members worked? More importantly, were they learning?

AACTE Teacher Stories: How Elementary School Students Found Their Voice and Became Changemakers

Ed Prep Matters features the “AACTE Teacher Stories,” series to spotlight the experiences of K-12 educators who are attending or are alumni of AACTE member institutions. AACTE invites preservice and in-service school teachers to reflect on how they are applying the practices, frameworks, and strategies they acquired during their educator preparation program (EPP) studies to assure student success. Email stories to knorfleet@aacte.org.

In this article, Miami University’s James Loy profiles Alli Huff, an alumna of the university’s teacher education program, who shares how she applied concepts like “inverting the curriculum” that propelled students to become co-curriculum creators. Huff was introduced to the student-centered approach by her teacher preparation program educators. The article originally appeared on the University of Miami website and is reprinted with permission.

Students in a park/outdoor setting

AACTE Teacher Stories: Teachers as Forward-Thinking Frontline Workers

AACTE Teacher Stories is a new series highlighting the experiences of K-12 educators who are attending or alumni of AACTE member institutions.

As an AACTE National Holmes Scholar who graduated from the University of Central Florida, I learned that to persevere I must overcome some fears regardless of how grand they might seem.  After graduation, I opted to take the path of returning to the K-12 classroom as a teacher and reading specialist rather than transitioning to higher education. In the midst of COVID-19, I was uncertain and fearful, like many of my fellow teachers. The new school year highlighted my and others’ fears, forcing us to consider our roles as frontline workers in education. My English class read the text, What Fear Can Teach Us, a speech by Karen Thompson Walker. In her speech, Walker posits “We all know what it’s like to be afraid. We know how fear feels, but I’m not sure if we spend enough time thinking about what fear means.”

Biden Budget Proposal is Historic High-Water Mark for Education Funding

Medal for achievement in education with diploma, hat and books standing on stack of coins on gray backgroundThis blog post is written by AACTE consultant Jane West and is intended to provide updated information. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE. 

Biden- Harris Administration Unveils Massive Budget with Historic Investments in Education

On the Friday before the long-awaited Memorial Day holiday, just as Members of Congress were headed home and the rest of us were finalizing our plans for the long weekend, the White House unveiled the complete version of the Biden-Harris Administration’s full budget proposal for FY 2022.

The budget proposal calls for $102.8 billion for the Department of Education—a $29.8 billion or 41% increase to the Department’s current spending levels. This increase in funding would be the largest increase the Department has seen since its inception in 1979.

AACTE Releases Toolkit to Help the Nation’s Schools Reopen

Educating the Future TodayPresident Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) in March, which includes $122 billion for the ARP Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) Fund. The ARP ESSER funds are intended to help state educational agencies and school districts safely reopen and address the impact of COVID-19 on the nation’s students. AACTE has developed the Educating the Future, Today toolkit to help members navigate conversations with state or local education leaders, encouraging them to use ESSER funds to staff classrooms with teacher candidates. 

These funds provide a unique opportunity for school districts and educator preparation programs to address the teacher pipeline.  As the U.S. Department of Education’s noted in its COVID-19 Handbook, Volume 2: Roadmap to Reopening Safely and Meeting All Students’ Needs, ARP ESSER funds can be used to staff classrooms with teacher candidates, thereby providing them with practical experience while helping alleviate the challenges teachers are encountering with the transition back to in person teaching.

PATHS to Tutor Act: Helping Students Overcome Pandemic Learning Loss

Tutor helping student

Photo by Allison Shelley for EDUimages

This thought leadership article is written by an AACTE member. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has set back learning for millions of students and exacerbated existing educational inequalities countrywide. A recent study by McKinsey Analysis found that Black, Latinx and lower-income students are less likely to have access to high-quality remote learning, resulting in their falling further behind and expanding the achievement gap by 15% to 20%. To help these students overcome pandemic learning loss, the Partnering Aspiring Teachers with High-Need Schools (PATHS) to Tutor Act was introduced on February 25 by a bipartisan group, including Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), John Cornyn (R-TX), Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Susan Collins (R-ME).

CoSN Releases Driving K-12 Innovation Reports

COSN logoCoSN, the national association of school district technology leaders, recently released two reports, Driving K-12 Innovation: 2021 Hurdles + Accelerators and Driving K-12 Innovation: 2021 Tech Enablers. The Driving K-12 Innovation reports capture the top nine topics (challenges, mega-trends, and tools), according to an advisory board of approximately 100 school leaders, technologists, educators, and changemakers. AACTE was proud to serve on the advisory board that supported the development of the report for the second year in a row.

Through the Driving K-12 Innovation series, CoSN continues its commitment to sharing high-quality trend reports that support the use of emerging technology in K-12 education to transform learning. In this initiative, a global advisory board of K-12 leaders, practitioners, and changemakers engages in discourse about the major themes driving, hindering, and enabling teaching and learning innovation at schools. Their work is divided into three steps: an initial survey to select the topics for discussion; discussion; and a concluding survey to capture the final thoughts from advisory board members and discern the top topics to feature in each publication. (Learn more at cosn.org/k12innovation.)

Teacher Prep Programs Showing Promise

This article originally appeared in Odessa American and is reprinted with permission.

University of Texas Permian Basin’s new certification program in early childhood prekindergarten through third grade education has one semester in the books.

Dean of the College of Education Larry Daniel said they have 11 to 12 students in that major.

“It’s our first semester this fall, so we’re expecting that program to continue to grow. I know we’ve had a lot of inquiries but I don’t have a precise figure. … We are expecting that program to continue to grow and having teachers certified, particularly with the early childhood area,” Daniel said during a Zoom Early Childhood Action Network meeting this week.

ECAN is a committee of the Education Partnership of the Permian Basin. The Education Partnership of the Permian Basin is a nonprofit organization focused on supporting and improving the quality of education throughout the Permian Basin from cradle to career, its website said.

What Can We Expect for Education with a Biden-Harris Administration?

This blog post is written by AACTE consultant Jane West and is intended to provide updated information. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

Welcome to the world of President-elect Joe Biden and VP-elect Kamala Harris.

What Might a Biden Presidency Mean for Education?

When President-elect Joe Biden told the nation that educators will have “one of their own” in the White House, a sigh of relief and a whiff of optimism were palpable among the education community. Referring to his wife, Jill Biden—a long time community college professor—he also said that “teaching isn’t just what she does, it’s who she is.”  Thus, the president-elect sets the tone for the next four years of one of the most pro-education administrations in our lifetimes.

Biden named his transition teams this week, including the one for education. Led by Linda Darling-Hammond, president of the Learning Policy Institute and former head of the Obama Administration education transition team, the group is comprised of a number of former Obama appointees as well as union leaders. The team is working on compiling both potential nominees for political positions in the Department of Education as well as fleshing out policy priorities and a timeline. 

Hirono, Booker Announce Legislation to Improve Distance and Blended Learning for K-12 Schools During COVID-19

The following article features comments by AACTE President and CEO Lynn M. Gangone on behalf of the Association in support of the legislation. 

Distance Learning

Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), along with her colleague Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) announced their plan to introduce the Learning Opportunity and Achievement Act (LOAA), which would improve distance and blended learning in our public schools during the coronavirus pandemic. LOAA combats instructional loss, particularly for at-risk and marginalized students, by providing support for professional development and training programs for teachers, tutoring and academic services, research and best practices, and other initiatives to enhance equity and access for all students. Specifically, the bill provides funding to address instructional loss for at-risk and marginalized students, including low-income students, minority students, children with disabilities, English learners, migratory students, homeless children and youth, and children or youth in foster care.

“Over the past few months, I’ve heard from students, parents, and educators across Hawaii who are doing their best to adjust to distance learning during the coronavirus pandemic. My own education was fundamental to my success, and this generation of students deserves a quality education—regardless of the challenges the pandemic poses. LOAA provides vital resources so educators can support their students, particularly those who are most at risk for instructional loss. I will continue to advocate for robust funding that supports healthy and safe learning environments for students in Hawaii and across the country,” Senator Hirono said.

COVID-19 Education Coalition Raises Concerns on the Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools and Small Businesses Act

ISTE Education Coalition Member BadgeThe undersigned members of the COVID-19 Education Coalition offer the following statement on the Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools and Small Businesses Act:

Our coalition is deeply concerned with the Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools and Small Businesses Act because of its low education funding levels, its fixation on physical reopenings of school buildings, and its failure to provide direct support for professional development in online learning. The bill would provide just $70 billion in additional K-12 education stabilization funds, a figure that is far short of the $200 billion that many educational groups feel is required to meet their needs. Additionally, we are concerned that the bill would condition receipt of two-thirds of this funding to the physical reopening of school buildings. This requirement ignores recent reports showing that 95% of districts plan to offer remote instruction to some degree, with about a third planning on remote instruction exclusively. This restriction makes no sense and will only adversely impact marginalized communities, including students of color, homeless students, students in foster care, and students with disabilities.

We also must note that this bill fails to provide separate funding for a key priority: professional development for online learning. Recently released studies point to the urgent need to support educators to deliver effective and equitable learning experiences. For example, more than one-fifth of educators have not received any training as it relates to technology-based remote instruction. A separate survey shows that a majority of novice educators do not feel well-prepared to provide online learning experiences for their students, as their preparation programs had not trained them on research-based technology integration frameworks.

Supporting Global CoSN Program to Drive K-12 Innovation

AACTE has partnered with CoSN (The Consortium for School Networking) to provide school leaders with high-quality information on emerging issues and technology trends for K-12 innovation. Recently, the international advisory board of about 100 education leaders identified 15 key hurdles, accelerators, and tech enablers for schools to leverage in 2020 in order to drive innovation in K-12 education.

AACTE is proud to be a member of the advisory board for CoSN’s Driving K12 Innovation Project. The next generation of teachers and leaders are being prepared at our member institutions. In collaboration with our K-12 school district colleagues, educator preparation programs can leverage technology that supports the learning and social emotional growth of all our students.

CoSN and AACTE are committed to advancing progressive practices in the field and addressing challenges and opportunities such as data privacy and ownership, social emotional learning, and tools for privacy and safety online.

CoSN’s Driving K-12 Innovation

CoSN will issue its insights and findings from the advisory board in two individual free briefs. These publications, along with an implementation toolkit, are being released throughout 2020 to spur ongoing discussions and visibility that analyze the top hurdles, accelerators and technology enablers in K-12 education. This project is part of CoSN’s EdTechNext initiative, extending their long-standing work surrounding emerging technologies. The Driving K-12 Innovation initiative is supported by AACTE.

Senate Debates Funding for Re-opening Schools

Students wearing masks outside school building

This blog post is written by AACTE consultant Jane West and is intended to provide updated information. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

Action Expected in July on Next COVID Relief Bill: Education in the Crosshairs

Beginning next week, we expect to see the Senate take up the next COVID relief bill.  The House has passed their version of the bill and Senate Democrats have introduced their version of the bill, so the next move is up Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).  His bill may be unveiled next week.

Education has become a high profile and contentious matter for this bill, as the president has determined that the economy cannot move forward unless schools are fully open in person so that parents and college employees (and workers in related businesses) can return to work in person. Multiple agendas are woven through this debate, which will become even more prominent as decisions are made about whether to apply conditions to any further COVID relief funding for education. 

Equity At the Core: 9 Challenge Questions to Explore and Ensure Inclusion of Students with Disabilities in the Reopening and Recovery Planning Process

Equity at the Core

To support school leaders, teachers, students, and their families in coping with the changes brought by COVID-19, the Educating All Learners Alliance have worked with national experts and their 50-plus alliance partners, including AACTE, to develop a design process around nine critical questions to consider in reopening and recovery planning for fall 2020.

The equityatthecore.org microsite shares resources from partner organizations, hosts a discussion forum and outlines a design process to ensure that students with disabilities are not only a paragraph in the planning process but are at the center of the discussion about educating all learners to prioritize equity and inclusion.

AACTE members are encouraged to visit the site and explore this resource for administrators, teachers, and school communities. AACTE is proud to be a part of this uncommon alliance of organizations working with each other to support the recovery and reopening process. 

COVID-19 Education Coalition Supports the Coronavirus Child Care and Education Relief Act and Increases in Federal FY21 Education Appropriations

The undersigned members of the COVID-19 Education Coalition offer the following statement on the Coronavirus Child Care and Education Relief Act (CCCERA) and FY21 federal education appropriations:

As states and districts continue preparing for the upcoming school year, national data reveal the critical need to support educators’ capacity to deliver effective and equitable online learning experiences. For example, a recent survey revealed discrepancies in the quality of instruction available to students from higher-income versus low-income families. Although the CARES Act provided some federal dollars to support educator professional development, experts agree that the current education stabilization funds are inadequate to fully support schools, students, educators, and families through the COVID-19 global pandemic.

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