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Other Training and Coaching

Michigan Department of Education Implementing Systemic Social and Emotional Learning Training

The Michigan Department of Education is embarking on a statewide social and emotional learning (SEL) pilot, made possible through the Michigan Health Endowment Fund. This pilot pairs 10 novice districts with 10 veteran districts, giving novice districts a chance to accelerate their SEL learning and providing successful veteran districts with an opportunity to strengthen their SEL implementation. Through a Michigan Department of Education-sponsored SEL community of practice, pilot participants learn how districts contextualize their SEL implementation and align their efforts with their district infrastructure. To support this work, the School Health and Safety Unit in the Office of Health and Nutrition Services developed a logic model, which includes an evaluation component. The School Health and Safety Unit requested support from REL Midwest to develop and pilot an evaluation strategy. Through this project, REL Midwest is training Office of Health and Nutrition staff in designing and implementing a rigorous evaluation strategy for the Michigan Department of Education’s district-focused SEL work.

Supporting Development of a Student Well-Being Survey With Kent Intermediate School District

REL Midwest is providing a training series to help the Kent Intermediate School District finalize a student wellness survey. REL Midwest facilitators are training district staff on assessing pilot survey data quality, conducting cognitive interviews to adjust survey language, and leading focus groups to expand on survey results. Kent Intermediate School District will administer the student survey in spring 2022 to all students in grades 5, 7, and 11.

Estimating Changes to Student Learning Following Extended School Building Closures Due to COVID-19

REL Midwest is undertaking a series of projects to better understand how student learning changed following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated suspension of in-person instruction. State, district, and school leaders can use the results of this suite of projects to guide instructional practice and inform future approaches to distance education.

In partnership with the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), REL Midwest is examining assessment data from school districts throughout Illinois that serve students in grades 3–8. REL Midwest is analyzing the data to understand the relationship between the COVID-19 pandemic and student learning, as measured by reading and mathematics assessment scores, as well as how this relationship varied across different groups of students and across schools and districts around the state.

Informed by the analysis plan developed with ISBE, REL Midwest partnered with the Ohio Department of Education to create a toolkit and training series to help guide Ohio districts as they assess learning changes through qualitative and quantitative approaches. In addition, REL Midwest used the toolkit in a training for Illinois districts that were not able to participate in the earlier project with ISBE.

COVID-19 Response Coaching

Through this project, REL Midwest helped education stakeholders across the Midwest respond to the disruptions created by the COVID-19 pandemic. REL Midwest experts produced blog posts highlighting strategies for using educational technology and teaching young children, English learner students, and students with disabilities in a remote environment. In addition, REL Midwest developed a set of infographics on literacy and math instruction for the Michigan Department of Education based on the What Works Clearinghouse Teaching Math to Young Children and Foundational Skills to Support Reading practice guides. The resources summarize and illustrate the key recommendations, strategies, and application examples included in the practice guides and are designed to support any adult involved in instruction for young learners, including teachers, family members, and other caregivers.

Remote Learning Webinars

To respond to urgent stakeholder needs stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, REL Midwest hosted a series of webinars focused on remote learning. The first webinar, held on March 26, 2020, discussed research-based strategies for transitioning classroom practices to an e-learning environment and featured two Illinois teachers who shared their approaches. REL Midwest then developed a follow-up webinar, held on April 8, 2020, to dive deeper into topics identified by regional stakeholders, including social and emotional learning, adult learning, and online learning platforms. Recordings, slide decks, and handouts from both sessions are available online.

Illinois GEAR UP Training With High Hopes and Making It Documentaries

REL Midwest developed and facilitated two training sessions to help the staff of Illinois Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) understand how to provide effective supports to Black and Latino students along their pathways to a postsecondary education. Illinois GEAR UP, funded by the federal discretionary grant program, is designed to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education. The program serves approximately 30,500 students in 25 middle schools and 25 high schools across Illinois. In the training sessions, participants watched the REL Midwest documentaries Making It: Latino Students’ Pathways to College and High Hopes and Higher Education: Honoring Black Students’ Aspirations. Participants then worked individually and collaboratively to reflect, discuss, and develop action plans on their capacity and readiness to implement the strategies highlighted in the documentaries.

Indiana Social and Emotional Learning Implementation Coaching

The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) requested support from REL Midwest following the release of statewide social and emotional learning (SEL) competencies. IDOE was exploring how to best support schools and districts in SEL implementation and, ultimately, to achieve their SEL goals. REL Midwest provided coaching and consultation to IDOE staff to ensure that SEL implementation plans and materials were strongly supported by the research. REL Midwest then worked with pilot districts and schools in Indiana that were interested in incorporating SEL into their schoolwide practices and curriculum. Recordings and slide decks from two public-facing webinars are available online.

Indiana Analytical Algebra II Rollout Coaching

IDOE recently created a new course—Analytical Algebra II—as an alternative to Algebra II that focuses on the application of algebraic concepts to help students become quantitatively literate global citizens. To encourage more schools to offer the course, IDOE offered virtual and in-person trainings for teachers and administrators to learn more. REL Midwest provided coaching support to IDOE on developing and facilitating the training sessions, communicating with teachers and schools, and conceptualizing postrollout analyses of course access and enrollment.

IL-EMPOWER Pilot Data Coaching

In 2018, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) implemented a pilot of IL-EMPOWER, a statewide initiative to provide school districts with the resources they need to support individual school improvement while offering opportunities for choice and voice. REL Midwest provided coaching for ISBE staff as they collected and analyzed data about the pilot. The coaching helped ISBE staff improve the IL-EMPOWER implementation process and built ISBE’s capacity to continue this work as new policies, programs, and practices are introduced.