Last month, we talked about the status of all the COVID-19 funding and how it has progressed. The situation for many of the states in their effort to obligate funding under all the ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) and GEER (Governor’s Emergency Education Relief) I, II, and III are ongoing. To see the progress of funding allotments and progress by state, district, and for Higher Education, click here: U.S. Department of Education – Education Stabilization Fund. On this site, you will notice a substantial difference among states on how much allocated funding from ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) each has. In many cases, you will see that the ARPA status in states is below 5% meaning that the application process has not started. In other states, the application phase has stopped but funding has yet to be sent out.
The following is an excerpt from the Federal Relief Funding Guide provided by Boxlight.
While we all hear “It's the time to act!” and “Don’t wait! There’s something you need to do!” acting on those reminders is a different story. But, you guessed it, the time is now for several federal funding opportunities which all have been extended for the last time. Let’s briefly look at the status of some significant ones and hopefully, if you have not already taken advantage of these funding opportunities, you will very, very soon.
Implementing social-emotional learning (SEL) skills and strategies have shown to positively impact student learning. Especially with this past year, teachers and students have had to deal with challenges they may not have been prepared for including how COVID-19 our feelings towards learning. Addressing SEL skills is not a new concept and educators have referenced the SEL Framework to meet students’ emotional needs to clear a pathway to learning success.
There is countless research that says an engaging learning environment supports student achievement and success. As a former classroom teacher, my favorite memories are of seeing my students totally into a project, hearing them talk with their classmates about what they were doing, and celebrating their successes when they understood a concept or completed a project they worked so hard on. A classroom should be a place for conversation and collaboration, combined with critical thinking and creativity.
Now more than ever, school and parent/family connection is integral when it comes to supporting students as everyone is working to maneuver learning in various environments and situations. In response to school closures and a move to remote learning, there were districts that provided training to help the adults at home understand how online learning platforms, software programs, and video conferencing tools would be used. Parents and caregivers needed to know the what, when, why, and how of educational technology and how to best support learning at home.
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is an educational framework that helps teachers create flexible learning environments that can accommodate students’ unique learning needs. Research shows that when teachers incorporate UDL, they are better able to meet the comprehensive needs of their students, including students with learning disabilities. The goal of UDL is to implement a variety of methods to engage students, represent information, and encourage students to actively participate and express themselves. Essentially, the application of UDL eliminates barriers to learning.
It is nothing new that teachers juggle multiple resources, tools, and programs with the aim of providing their students with high-quality instruction that is engaging and improves their learning progress. With the move to remote and hybrid learning for many schools, teachers also had to juggle multiple platforms, software, and applications to facilitate synchronous learning sessions that would help students overcome education-related challenges. But does it have to be this way?
Districts and schools across the country are making decisions about how to best utilize federal funding. Regardless of the programs, software, and technology professional development and training plays a critical part in acclimating educators and students to what’s “new” for best integration for teaching and learning.
Since late March 2020, the federal government has approved relief funding to help states address challenges to student learning caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA), and the American Rescue Plan will provide approximately $190 billion to the Elementary and Secondary Emergency Education Relief (ESSER) fund. Of course, with the availability of funds come many questions such as - How can these funds be used? When do they need to be used by? Where should we start?