Communications, Stakeholder Engagement & Standards: Our Top Content of 2016

By Julianne Nava

Over the past year, as part of our effort to improve learning in America’s public schools, we at the Learning First Alliance have addressed many important issues. We’ve produced resources related to Common Core (and other college- and career-ready standards) implementation, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the educator pipeline, and hate and harassment in public schools, among other things. And we continue to highlight stories of successful practice and post commentary on a variety of topics from our staff and member organizations.

Of all that we’ve done, what caught the attention of you, our readers? Here is our top new content of 2016, as determined by Google Analytics. Enjoy!

  1. Working Together for Student Success: A Back-to-School Communications Toolkit. Our most-viewed new content this year was our back-to-school toolkit, which aimed to support those in the education community in speaking collectively about key issues such as college and career readiness; discussing the great things happening in schools and classrooms; and emphasizing the important role that each member of the education community plays.
  2. Sandy Hook Promise Announces "Start With Hello" Week. Social isolation is a growing epidemic in the United States and within our schools, with too many young people suffering silently every day because they feel excluded, left out, or that they don’t belong. To help combat it, Sandy Hook Promise has introduced “Start with Hello” week to create more inclusive and connected classrooms, schools and communities.
  3. Education Secretary Details Plans for Equity, Better Teachers, and ESSA in Interview with LFA. In February 2016, John King, then-Acting U.S. Secretary of Education, spoke with LFA about his ambitious agenda for the final year of the Obama administration, including his plans to improve student equity and excellence, better equip the teaching force, and increase college completion rates, as well as being implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
  4. Teacher Shows How Communication with Parents is More Than a Grade. A California teacher discusses how he communicates challenges, progress and successes throughout the school year, giving parents and families the tools to understand the process of learning, not just a result.
  5. Principal of the Year Focuses on College Prep, Common Core Skills. In this podcast, Alan Tenreiro, principal of Cumberland High School (RI) and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) 2016 Principal of the Year, discusses building a culture of high expectations that emphasizes college and career readiness for all students.
  6. National Education Groups Draft Guidelines on Stakeholder Engagement in ESSA. For the first time in federal policy, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) recognizes the expertise that educators can bring to the policymaking process and calls for collaboration by practitioners and policymakers – but it gives few details on how those groups should work together. To facilitate that process, Learning First Alliance (LFA) proposed principles to guide stakeholder engagement.
  7. Where We Are and Where We're Going. Over four weeks this spring, we convened a “Practitioner Think Tank” consisting of a cross-section of education practitioners—teachers, principals, school counselors, parents, technology directors, superintendents, teacher educators, school board members and other ground-level educators—to explore the future of college- and career-ready standards. The final report includes information on the contextual factors that educators recognize have led us to where we are now; the status of schools and districts regarding key issues identified by the discussants as necessary for successful implementation of college- and career-ready standards; and actions needed to position educators for success in the coming school year.
  8. Working With Difficult Colleagues? Here's How to Manage Challenging Personalities. Veteran school administrators and leadership consultants Diane Watkins and Stephanie B. Johnson have dealt with many types of employees, from superintendents and teachers to support staff. Using stories they collected from the field, they’ve built a Top 10 list of people with troubling traits, and their work centers on how supervisors and fellow colleagues can work with them—or around them—to build a professional, supportive environment.
  9. Webinar Helps Principals Build Better Professional Learning. For students to succeed, schools must invest in the adults who teach them. In an August 2016 webinar, Learning Forward Deputy Executive Director Frederick Brown discussed how principals can help teachers guide their students to college- and career-readiness and his organization’s backmapping model for professional learning strategies.
  10. How Can You Promote Summer Learning? Experts Give Their Ideas. Representatives of LFA member organizations and experts in the field share their thoughts and ideas on how educators and parents can keep students engaged during the summer months.

Image by Chris, via Flickr (CC By 2.0)

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