The Future of Teaching

Every day, we see stories about teachers who are hanging on by a thread, and we hear stories from teachers who can confirm the same and who are, worse yet, actively seeking other opportunities and will leave their careers in education. It’s not that they don’t want to be teachers, but the challenges of these past few years – on top of the many other pressures teachers face in the classrooms – have become insurmountable for some. We need to look at both how to better support educators and reduce attrition as well as look at how the education system can change to accommodate the drop in availability.

Teacher Shortages Are Growing

Throughout the country, the number of people entering the teaching profession is dropping significantly. According to the National Center for Education, education majors accounted for more than 10% of the degree candidates in 1990-1991. That number fell to 4.2% in the 2018-2019 school year. The pandemic has reduced those numbers even further. According to the U.S. Department of Education, there are teacher shortages in nearly every state for nearly every subject. A quickly generated report on general math resulted in a nine page list of teacher shortages from Wyoming to Puerto Rico.

Supporting Teachers More Effectively

Teacher turnover is damaging to students. According to research by Eric A. Hanushek, Steven G. Rivkin, and Jeffrey C. Schiman, the following impacts occur:

  • Teacher turnover negatively affects achievement despite adverse selection of leavers.
  • Experience loss and grade reassignment account for the negative turnover effects.
  • Negative turnover effects are concentrated in lower-achievement schools.

Reducing teacher attrition, then, has a direct impact on student success.

There are a number of ways we can support our teachers more effectively:

Invest in educators. Increase salaries and offer additional pay when they’re forced to manage both in-class and online students. Pay off their student loans. Cover the costs of all of their supplies; don’t make them beg the internet community to “clear the lists.”

Listen to educators. Listen to your teachers – at the school level, the district level, the state level, and the federal level. Put teachers on the committees that make decisions about policy, health, safety, and, yes, curriculum.

Provide tools for educators. Invest in technology that makes it easier for teachers to do their jobs. This means that at the state and national levels, governments need to free their budgets to invest in equity – broadband for every household, for example. At the district level, districts need to invest in smart technology that makes it easier for teachers to manage not just their teaching responsibilities but all of the other tasks they have, such as SPED reporting and SEL.

Addressing the Tech Skills Gap

There’s a huge tech skills gap. Our partners at Global Grid for Learning have identified some of the risks of not addressing this gap and the threat it represents to our economic stability:

  • Our ability to compete globally could be threatened.
  • Ransomware and phishing attacks are growing more sophisticated, resulting in the need for technically capable workers to thwart the threats to our schools, infrastructures, and businesses.
  • As AI, AR, and VR become commonplace in retail, education, healthcare, and other industries, the demand for technically proficient workers will continue to grow.

Radically Alter the Education System

It’s time for an academic overhaul. We’ve been using the same basic education system for more than a century, and we’re not keeping up. Larry Ferlazzo explores this in his two-part series on Futures Thinking. We need to change how we assess, what we teach, and how we prepare students for the workforce of the future. Lumen™ Touch is at the forefront of the education revolution. What do you want to see for the future of teaching?

How to Support Teachers as We Return to the Classroom

July has come to an end, and in August virtually all educators begin thinking about the coming school year as they develop lesson plans and prepare their classrooms. This school year in particular, there are many challenges facing teachers, not the least of which is a teacher shortage in many areas. Given these challenges, what can we do to make returning to the classroom easier?

How Administrators Can Support Teachers

Obviously, one of the best ways to better support teachers is to increase salaries wherever possible. When educators are not burdened with financial stress, they are better able to focus on the most important job they hold. But beyond allotting bigger salaries, administrators can demonstrate support by:

  • Providing teachers with the tools and technology they need in the classroom
  • Listening seriously to their ideas about how to improve education, safety, and the learning environment – and implementing any ideas you can
  • Ensuring they have a safe workplace
  • Saving teachers time by giving them a powerful learning management system that manages curriculum, instruction, assessment, and grading

How School IT Leaders Can Support Teachers

Most schools were already integrating more technology into the curriculum, but that certainly escalated during the height of the pandemic. IT leaders were responsible for making sure students had the equipment they needed, and for providing tech support for students, parents, and teachers throughout the school year.

For most districts, going into the new school year, the focus will shift toward ensuring that classrooms are ready for teachers and students. As more schools convert to smart classrooms, technology – and the experts who make sure the IT infrastructure stays up and running – become more crucial, to ensure the best possible educational experience. As SEL (social-emotional learning) becomes more prevalent in every school, IT leaders can play a much more important role.

How Parents Can Support Teachers

Aaron Cardwell, who was a teacher at Rocketship Public Schools and recently started a position as Assistant Principal at Success Academy Charter Schools, shared advice that went viral on Facebook about how parents of kindergarten and first-grade students can help, as their children begin the school year. He emphasized the focus on practical skills. Read his post here. Parents can also support teachers by:

  • Providing the requested supplies – and sending extra if possible
  • Filling out and returning all forms (a lot of this can now be done online through a parent portal)
  • Responding to and communicating with teachers when parental involvement is needed
  • Supporting their efforts in the classroom by ensuring that their children do their homework each day and come to school prepared to learn
  • Being active in the PTA and in the community, advocating for education equity and support

How the Community Can Support Teachers

There are so many ways the community can support teachers, including getting involved in the school board, attending school district meetings, advocating for the changes that teachers need, and voting “yes” on budget increases in those communities where voter approval is necessary for district funding. However, we know that teachers often spend far more each year on school supplies than their tax-deductible $250, so one thing we can all do to support teachers is to #clearthelist. This is a movement started on social media to help teachers obtain the supplies they need for their classrooms. Another organization, Donors Choose, connects communities and corporate donors with teachers who need project funding. It’s a great way to support education.

A well-educated society is the backbone of an economically strong, socially engaged country – and teachers are a pillar of that society. Our teachers have always been heroes but in most cases have gone unrecognized. The pandemic focused a spotlight on the education system and the value of the teacher versus the institution. It is our hope that everyone will support teachers more fervently going forward.

Are Teachers Unsung Heroes? Who Is Listening?

In the medical world, we have been giving a tremendous amount of praise and recognition to the doctors and nurses who have been combating the coronavirus. We are providing them with pandemic protection equipment, we are developing safety protocols, and we are paying them more to come into areas where additional help is needed.

Can we truly say we are doing the same for teachers and school staff or are we demanding they return to a work environment that will compromise their health? What are the challenges associated with going back to school? Here’s what teachers are asking about:

Many teachers are challenged with metabolic diseases, such as diabetes and obesity; respiratory diseases, such as asthma; cardiovascular diseases, such as mild heart failure; and autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis. As well, some teachers are immunocompromised patients recovering from cancer treatment or organ transplants. Do these teachers get more robust protection equipment and special assignments to reduce their risk?

So, when we go into this new world of learning, we will still be in the fog as leadership is clearly lacking when it comes to providing direction that responds to these concerns, and decision makers have different vested interests. Moreover, we have compounded the medical crisis with a social enlightening, drawing attention to mutual equity and equal education.

Our teachers have always been heroes but in most cases have gone unrecognized.

This crisis has focused a spotlight on the education system and the value of the teacher versus the institution. And guess what? The spotlight is only going to get brighter as we move into a whole new dimension of learning and unmask the travesties of our existing school systems. And this is not the time to add additional technology to fix the crisis but rather to look at what schools are trying to deliver by way of learning and realizing that their technology is not suited for the crisis and the future.

Is it reasonable to consider online-only instruction for most students?

As COVID-19 cases continue to climb in 32 states, health experts predict that schools will not truly be able to return to some semblance of normal until May or June of 2021. Knowing that, we can begin now to address the challenges of maintaining a distance-learning environment. While there were a number of hiccups in getting started with distance learning last spring, most teachers were able to overcome the challenges – as were most students. With better support to infrastructure, addressing the inequity of Wi-Fi and device access, many students can continue with distance learning. By facilitating distance learning for as many students as possible, those who really cannot remain home, whether because of financial reasons or because of special needs that require in-person therapy and guidance, can have enough space within the school facilities to be accommodated.

Lumen Touch Is Here for You – Start with our No-Cost Audit

We don’t have all the answers, but we continuously monitor the learning space and add more capability to our platform, such as integrated video and computer-based interactivity, and Covid-19 monitoring and tracking with parent, teacher, and student portals to keep everyone informed every moment of their day.

We also have a seasoned audit team that will help you find means to pay for extra costs when your budgets are being cut. This audit is at NO COST to you and has saved some districts hundreds of thousands of dollars. Get in touch to learn more.

Bright SPED: Addressing ALL Student Needs During Uncertain Times

We know that many of you are busy making plans to support all students during these uncertain times in our community and want you to know that we are here for you! We have been diligently following both federal and state updates as they are being released and will be making any adjustments to reporting requirements if necessary.

Special Students Still Need Support

Your Bright SPED system will continue to support communication with staff and student teams, progress reports, and IEP forms and documentation. Bright SPED is a multi-user system, allowing your team to work together on an individual record at the same time (but not on the same field).  Lumen Messenger and Case Notes create a space to have constant communication between team members. Since Bright SPED is a true, data driven system, all information is updated in real time. Electronic signatures within the system can be very helpful for the signing of your forms and for your participants meeting virtually.  Access to your site is available on any device, anywhere.

If you would like to know more on how your system can help you during these ‘virtual’ times, please feel free to register for an overview here.

We are also busy making updates to include a Bright SPED Parent Portal for districts to share with their parents.  This will allow for documentation to be shared and signed virtually, to ease virtual meetings and document processing.  Be on the lookout for these features in the next week.

We will be closely monitoring all updates and notifications from both federal and state officials.  If you have any questions or need any assistance, please never hesitate to reach out to us at help@lumentouch.com.

Decreasing Teacher Attrition with Bright Learning

Admittedly, the path for teachers has never been an easy one. And with tight budgets and larger class sizes, teacher attrition is at an all-time high. Losing talented teachers places an enormous burden on those school districts that are forced to cobble together enough staff to meet the needs of the students. At Lumen Touch, we believe that the right technology can help districts retain talented teachers by giving them tools that allow them to meet instructional mandates without losing touch with what got them into teaching in the first place: having a positive impact in the lives of children.

The Problem

Over the last decade, as budgets have tightened, teacher pay in many schools has stagnated. At the same time, new mandates are now in place that require teachers to spend more time working. This has resulted in the highest number of teachers quitting since the Department of Labor started measuring the sector in 2001.

The Solution

A multi-pronged approach to solving the teacher shortage is required. Clearly, states must prioritize education in their budgets, but that has been and will continue to be an ongoing fight. In the interim, districts must do what they can to minimize the impact on teachers. One way to do this is by finding ways to stretch their school budgets – through grants and strong community volunteer programs, for example. Another way to help is by integrating technology that reduces the workload for teachers. For most teachers, stress and long hours are as much the cause for them leaving the profession as is the pay lag.

Bright Learning™ Empowers Teachers

Bright Learning is a powerful resource that puts teachers back in control of meeting standards, by aligning student achievement and standards-based grading. The system gives teachers a “command center” from which they can map standards to curriculum, assess students, and evaluate progress easily and simply. With an integrated gradebook and lesson planner, teachers save time, aggravation, and stress while better meeting mandates – and having more class time to truly engage with students on a more personal level.

At Lumen Touch, we know that there are no simple answers to solving the big challenges that face educators. But there are changes that can make a difference. Bright Learning is one such change. To learn more, get in touch.

Your Teachers Have EdTech – Now What?

With so many schools moving to incorporate technology into the classroom, whether by desire or state mandate, districts are searching for ways to support their teachers as they learn to utilize the technology. Supporting teachers requires a comprehensive approach – you can’t just buy software, install it on a teacher’s computer, and say go. Using a model can help teachers gain insight into how they can successfully incorporate the technology into their instruction. One widely used model is SAMR, which stands for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition. While this model helps teachers integrate technology, it also allows for a student-first thought process. Another model that is commonly used is called technological pedagogical content knowledge or TPACK

Supporting Teachers

Beyond providing a framework through which teachers can learn to incorporate technology, school administrators must also address the time and resources needed to fully understand and engage with the technology. Technology should be a tool and not another to-do for teachers. Teachers should not merely be a part of the team choosing those EdTech resources that will be beneficial. Administrators should support teachers with professional development, an IT support team, and in-school support, such as a designated mentor or onsite IT coach.

Benefits of EdTech for Teachers

The benefits of EdTech for teachers in the classroom are numerous. One of the benefits is the ability to use technology to help differentiate instruction for students. The ability to collect and analyze data about student performance also helps teachers more readily support individual students. Engaging students is often easier with technology, especially in this age of digital natives. The rise of students who need a classroom that is flexible and more engaging means that students are better able to use their learning capabilities to accomplish new things. 

Students today are surrounded by technology almost from the day they are born. Utilizing it in the classroom is essential. School administrators can support teachers by choosing technology that provides the support, training, and tools that make technology lift the burden on teachers, not add to it.

The Lumen Touch Difference

We like to position ourselves as members of a school district’s team rather than purveyors of technology. We offer an all-in-one EdTech solution that saves time and money while improving efficiency and collaboration. We provide comprehensive training and train-the-trainer training to ensure every school has onsite support. We are committed to our schools and districts and can work with schools to assist with planning, grant writing, organization improvement, instruction design, leadership development, technology planning, and more. We provide ongoing support to teachers and schools using any or all of our modules, and we are very strongly focused on customer loyalty.

At Lumen Touch, we are proud of our team that is driving excellence in education. Please get in touch if you are interested in learning more.