October 2020
Mentoring Matters - Now More Than Ever!
Thirteen Vestal K-12 teachers who are mentors met with Pat Walsh this month to focus on making the most of their mentoring relationship with the new teachers they are supporting this year. Effective mentors make a significant difference in the induction experience of new teachers and this year is proving to be even more important a year for this learning focused relationship. Not only do these mentor/mentee relationships help new teachers increase their efficacy as instructional problem solvers and decision-makers, they increase positive self-esteem and keep teachers in the profession.

The learning during two synchronous zoom sessions was focused on:

  • Describing attributes of effective mentors
  • Identifying helpful coaching tools from the “coaching toolbox”
  • Developing a learning focus for each participants respective mentor/mentee relationship 

As part of the work, mentors watched an exemplar coaching conversation. They then had an opportunity to practice honing their coaching skills in partner conversations with their colleagues. The virtual learning sessions also provided the “real time” chance for Pat to think with the mentors about the adaptations and considerations for coaching via zoom. Patrick Clarke, Director of Instruction for Vestal, participated in the sessions and provided guidance as to specifics around mentoring at Vestal. This is the fourth year that Vestal mentors have worked with Pat.

Contact Pat Walsh at pwalsh2@btboces.org if you would like to learn how the PLIC can help support mentoring in your district.
Building Resilience in Trauma-Impacted Students
In a recent session, Stacy Smith worked with area educators to explore strategies to build resiliency in students impacted by trauma. Every classroom contains multiple students who have experienced or are currently experiencing trauma. The brain and body’s reactions to trauma and toxic stress can have profound effects on our health, social skills, academic success, and behavior.  

Educators learned ways that they can build resilience in their students and help them overcome the negative effects of trauma. They discussed 5 essential resiliency factors that can be built into students' school experiences to support them.  

  • Connection - Commit to adding value to them, give them hope, point our their strengths, Be positive and caring, Set consistent boundaries and stick to them

  • Security - Predictable routines & procedures, Create classroom rituals, Teach mindfulness, conflict resolution, stress management, & positive self-talk

  • Achievement - Meet kids where they are, praise effort, Differentiate, Scaffold tasks, Provide timely & relevant feedback, Strengths-based approach

  • Autonomy - Give students choice in how they show mastery or complete learning tasks, Teach goal setting and problem solving 

  • Fulfillment - Give them opportunities to meet others needs- service learning, classroom responsibilities, make learning relevant to their lives & communities 

Interested in learning more about this topic? Register now for our next two-session series (January 13th and February 10th) here.
Regional Learning Communities Continue Virtually
Spotlight: Grade 6 Math Regional Learning Community
Regional Math Specialists Paul Volkert and Cody Osterhout joined 6th grade math educators in September and October for the 6th Grade Math Regional Learning Community. The learning community meetings are a continuation of prior years’ work, with a new lens of prioritizing standards for a distance/hybrid/remote learning environment. The group took the previously made scope and sequence, and revised the order and topics to reflect their prioritized standards for the 2020-2021 school year. Discussions and planning included identifying gaps that might have occurred last year and how teachers could address those topics in conjunction with the essential standards for this year.

Participants follow a common scope & sequence for instruction throughout the year and administer common assessments. Following the administration of the assessments, the participants meet to have data-driven instructional conversations . These conversations help drive in-person and virtual classroom instruction. Given the current environment, the results of the first assessment were not as good as previous years, but this realization led to productive conversations amongst the teachers, including how to address the distractors and additional teaching strategies teachers that could be used in the hybrid/remote environments. 

The participating teachers have the mindset that they will do what it takes to make sure students have the essential standards understood. Educators have shared resources and strategies to accommodate any learning environment. These discussions provide great opportunities for teachers to grow their knowledge of the math standards and practices, especially in a digital environment. If there are teachers in your building or district who were unable to attend the first sessions, it is not too late to join for the rest of the year! Registration here for Grade 6 Math Learning Community. 

Virtual collaboration opportunities and Regional Learning Communities are available for other content areas and grade levels as well. Click here to access details and registration links in the PLIC catalog.
Windsor's PLIC IT Integration Team Combines Data Privacy Awareness with Mini Tech Lessons
The 2020-2021 school year provided countless challenges to test our resolve and ability to develop creative solutions to issues many of us never saw coming. One challenge many of us were able to anticipate was New York State Education Law §2d Part 121 going into effect. These are the regulations surrounding data privacy for both students and teachers that were adopted in 2014.

While the regulations may seem straightforward, protecting a student’s personally identifiable information (PII), when it comes to exactly what constitutes PII, and if a website collects PII or not… things can get complicated very quickly. Luckily, many members of the PLIC and SCRIC teams have worked hard over the past 6 years to understand the regulations, and help advise districts regarding next steps.

In the Windsor Central School District members of the PLIC IT Integration team, Barb Tasber, Emily Koval, and Rick Bray, have been working with district administrators to help curate a Software Toolkit to help teachers identify which platforms are Ed Law §2-d compliant. In addition to this, the instructional technology coaches have started creating weekly informational posters that are sent out to district faculty giving a brief overview of the product along with a scheduled mini professional learning opportunity later that week. Coupled with that mini-PL opportunity, teachers are always welcome to reach out to their embedded instructional technology coaches to set up follow up appointments, planning sessions, co-teaching, or model teaching opportunities.

The driving force behind this effort is not to flood teachers with a plethora of brand new tools to learn, but instead offer a concise list of versatile tools that are all compliant with the student data privacy regulations, and might be able to consolidate the work teachers are doing into fewer platforms to help them increase efficiency. The Software Toolkit is the culmination of collecting feedback on how various tools were being used by teachers, finding common uses between platforms, and using research and experience to identify platforms that were compliant with the new regulations. Change is never “easy”, but in some cases change can lead to a better pathway moving forward. For example, you may not have access to the screen recording tool used in the past, but we have purchased a platform that allows you not only to create screen recordings, but also provides a robust video editing tool for the teachers who were looking for that, and it will be there when you are ready for that… all in one tool.

One piece of feedback we heard from families after the spring’s shutdown was around the difficulty of trying to navigate multiple platforms. Many districts in our region worked to consolidate platforms in a effort to reduce this pressure point for our families. The Software Toolkit for Windsor teachers works towards the same goal. While we want to keep our eyes open for new products that can help innovate our practices, the sheer number of “things” can be overwhelming to many. Combine that with the student data privacy regulations… it’s enough to make your head spin. The Software Toolkit provides an organized list of what is available to teachers and students, along with some basic insight into what each platform can do.
The PLIC has started a vodcast this year called Educator Stories. The vodcast, hosted by Jaime Mendelis and Dustin Andrus, features educators from the BT BOCES region who highlight the strategies they are having success with while teaching in the COVID Era.

Episode 1 featured Owego Apalachin CSD educator, Tonya Alexander. Tonya discussed her path to become a teacher, what she still does to try to perfect her craft, and how focusing on togetherness with her students has led to success in teaching during these times. Catch the replay HERE.

Join us live HERE for Episode 2 on November 19th at 3:30 featuring Maine Endwell CSD Educator, Taylor Norton.
 Learn ~ Collaborate ~ Explore ~ Register Today!
Responsive Classroom Refresher Series [Nov. 4, Dec. 2, Jan. 6, Feb. 3,
Mar. 3]

[Nov. 5]

[Nov. 9, Jan. 27, Mar. 30]

[Nov. 17, Dec. 1 (course includes asynchronous activities)

[Nov. 23]

Register by December 2nd
Looking for more Professional Learning opportunities?
Check out the PLIC catalog and calendar here!