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Blog post Shani Collins Woods, Ph.D., Guest BloggerSREB-State Doctoral Scholars Program graduate

Self-Care and Your Success in Graduate School

An occasional series from the Doctoral Scholars Program on postsecondary topics.

Dr. Shani Collins Woods How do you honor your mind, body and spirit? Do you even think it’s important?

From 2007-2014 I was a full-time doctoral student in social work at the University of Alabama. The program involved writing an annotated bibliography, writing and defending an integrative paper, taking comprehensive exams, and writing and defending a dissertation. My life was consumed with this and travel between my home state of Mississippi and my surrogate city and state, Tuscaloosa, Alabama. I made little time for self-care. I would leave Tuscaloosa on a Friday and return either Sunday evening or leave at 5:30 a.m. on Monday morning. I missed my family, friends, and the comforts of my Mississippi Delta home life. My home was my outlet.

Blog post Megan Boren, Program Specialist, SREB

COVID-19 Effects on the Teacher Workforce

In April, my mom called me with the news that my high school chemistry teacher, Mr. Metcalfe, who was rounding out his 42nd year of teaching, had died from COVID-19. I knew him from class, of course, but I also went to school with his son for 13 years and his family attended my grandparent’s church.

He was respected, loved and honored for his excellent teaching. His funeral was an all-day parade of cars through the high school parking lot, where community members waved and shouted condolences to his family. My mom said the cars stretched down the street for miles.

Blog post Alan Richard, News Manager, SREB

Strategies for states to help workers recover, thrive when COVID-19 subsides

Economic setbacks from COVID-19 might be just the beginning if states don’t prepare more of the South’s (and nation’s) people for the workforce changes yet to come.

“How can states use education and workforce dollars to turn things around?” SREB President Stephen Pruitt asked during the first of six weekly SREB webinars on how states can help their workforces recover from the impact of COVID-19.

Blog post By Shelly Flygare, SREB School Improvement Leadership Coach

New digital tools proving valuable for teachers, students in long run

As a former teacher and principal in New Mexico who now works with educators across the country for SREB, I shared many educators’ concerns when the pandemic forced most schools online.

As the new school year starts, however, I’m discovering that some of the digital tools we’ve learned to use while teaching online can provide new ways for teachers to support students’ academic growth.

Blog post Jessica Snellings, Research Analyst

How States Can Reduce College Debt for Future Teachers 

A major issue for my generation, the millennials, and for Gen Z as well is deep, suffocating student debt. For those who want to enter teaching, a career that is not compensated handsomely, this debt can be even more daunting.

Many teacher candidates work full- or part-time jobs in addition to attending classes. When they enter their student teaching period, whether for a semester or a year, these candidates are expected to give over their time fully to student teaching, which makes working nearly impossible.

Blog post Jessica Snellings, Research Analyst

How Some Oklahomans Want to Retain Beginning Teachers

Many states have a critical issue with retaining early-career teachers, no matter their preparation pathway. Oklahoma has one of the more severe teacher shortages, with 57% of new teachers leaving the profession by their fifth year, compared to 44% nationwide.

One of the top reasons early career teachers leave is lack of support. Better early career support would help solve the costly problem of having to prepare and hire a new teacher each time another leaves the profession.

Blog post Rebecca Purser, Research Associate

Addressing Inequity in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond

Given the diverse array of urban, rural and suburban schools and technology centers SREB serves, you might assume that students’ school and classroom experiences would vary more based upon where they live — for example, a student in urban Atlanta compared to a student in rural South Carolina — rather than the classroom or school in which they are enrolled.

We found that this is not always the case.

Blog post Alan Richard, SREB

‘Borrowing While Black’: A College Debt Crisis for Today’s Students

Most SREB states need more students to complete various levels of college to meet expected workforce needs — but student debt may get in the way of states’ progress.

Only about 29% of Black working-age adults in SREB states had at least a two-year college degree in 2017. Meantime, many Black students and others find it increasingly difficult to pay for college.

And that was true even before COVID-19 took hold.

Blog post Amanda Merritt, School Improvement Instructional Coach

Promoting Student Collaboration in the Age of COVID-19

elementary aged girl wearing a protective maskAs schools and districts prepare for the new year, student and staff safety is top of mind. Many are buying extra cleaning supplies and developing protocols for social distancing, wearing masks and proper hygiene.

At SREB, we hear daily from teachers and leaders in search of strategies for delivering quality instruction while meeting safety guidelines. They ask:

“How do we reconnect with “lost” students who lacked access to online learning this spring?”

“Will social distancing require teachers to lecture to students sitting in rows?”

Blog post Alan Richard

‘Wireless on Wheels’: Rural District Takes Wi-Fi on the Road

Louisa County, Virginia, sprawls across the vast countryside between Richmond and Charlottesville. Only 5,000 students attend the county’s public schools, even though it’s more than an hour’s drive from one end of the county to the other.

High-speed internet, or any internet service at all — cell-phone service, too — doesn’t reach many parts of the county.

When the schools were forced online in March by the COVID-19 crisis, county school leaders wrangled with how to help more students and families get online for class.

Blog post Craig Shuey, Director of Information Technology, SREB

Technology Advice for Schools and Districts in the COVID-19 Era

When schools and districts closed this spring in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the biggest challenges they faced was ensuring that teachers, students and families had access to the broadband internet and Wi-Fi networks they needed to teach and learn online.

Blog post By Shelly Flygare, SREB School Improvement Leadership Coach

Online or Not: Four Actions for Quality Instruction of Elementary Students

“I learned how to support all of my students, no matter what format I’m asked to teach in — even those students I thought we could never serve outside school walls.”

That’s what an elementary teacher told me when I asked her what positives emerged from the shift to remote learning this spring.

As we prepare to enter the new school year, one thing is certain — education is not going to look the same. The uncertainty of these times offers us opportunities to create a better experience for each of our elementary students, especially those with special needs, such as students with special needs, English language learners and students who need Tier 2 or Tier 3 instructional supports.

Blog post

Six Steps to Improve Your Online and Blended Instruction

“I just saw where we will have kids in class only two days a week and the rest will be virtual. I don’t think I can handle it.”

“All students will be online to begin the year… I cannot go through what happened this spring again.”

I saw comments like these in an online teachers’ forum when districts began issuing their school reopening plans. Although reactions like these are common, there’s no need to panic. 

Blog post Alan Richard

How colleges can better serve student-parents
One in five U.S. undergraduates now raising children

Nija Simmons, an African American college student parent stands holding a paper and presents to her class

More of today’s college students are raising children while in school, and they’re a larger, faster-growing group than many colleges institutions and policymakers realize.

Nicole Lynn Lewis, the founder and CEO of Generation Hope, joined SREB for a webinar on June 11 to discuss how institutions can build and strengthen support for student-parents. Her organization assists teenage parents—men and women—who attend college in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.

Blog post Megan Boren

A Long-Term Solution to Teacher Shortages
Finding the Root of the Problem

We’ve all heard the saying “You can’t see the forest for the trees.” When it comes to state policies affecting the teacher workforce, it’s important to see both.  

Teachers make life-long impressions on thousands of students — over 3,000 in an average career — and help raise every generation to understand the world and become productive, well-rounded citizens.

Blog post David Raney, SREB Chief Editor

Belonging From a Distance
Protecting the mental health of America’s “loneliest generation”

Things are tough for college students right now. The COVID-19 crisis, which has disrupted life everywhere, is “quite possibly the single most disruptive event in American higher education in at least a half century,” according to the Atlantic, one that has “left students scrambling to wrangle flights home and pack up their dorm room.”

Blog post Stephen PruittSREB President

Better Together

After weeks of struggling with the fallout of COVID-19 — working remotely, social distancing, helping neighbors when we can — I’m quite sure no one needs to be told that we’re living in “unprecedented times.” That seems clear enough.

Our teachers are coping with a digital environment that most were not trained for, trying to maintain their focus on equity to be sure every child has a chance at a quality education, meanwhile managing houses and budgets and families and concerns about their health, as we all are. It’s more than anyone was prepared for.