This podcast is brought to you by NCLA. Each week our host, Rachael Mann, will be joined by Career and Technical Education (CTE) thought leaders to share innovative approaches to local challenges that will inspire CTE administrators across the nation.
Author: Kevin McCaskill, Executive Director at Madison Park Technical Vocational High School
Malcolm X once quoted, “education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” That preparation has been disrupted by the current COVID-19 pandemic. School districts across the country have turned to remote learning to salvage formal education, a far cry from normalcy. Although means and methods have been put in place by districts across the country to supplement learning, inequities abound. As school districts remain closed and the summer learning opportunities
In our urban school districts, these inequities are very apparent. Special education and English Learners, whose numbers are substantially greater than suburban districts, are at a disadvantage in accessing and comprehending remote lessons. These students thrive on face-to-face interactions; the personal touch enhances the learning process due to the rapports that are developed, the ability for students to ask questions, the ability for teachers to “read the room” for understanding, and the ability for students to learn from each other.
The inequities don’t stop there; access to technology and factors involving housing, food, and other socioeconomic issues have made learning for many students a difficult and trying ordeal. Urban districts must first look to meet the most basic needs of its students before the educational process even starts.
Urban districts have been responsible for providing laptops and hotspots to families; urban districts have been very instrumental in lobbying internet companies in providing free or reduced rate service for families.
Homelessness and transiency are real obstacles for districts as families as they struggle to solve short-term housing issues in an effort to meet an immediate need. Education becomes secondary to this most basic need; the uncertainty of where one may lay their head for any given evening proves to be more of a priority than logging on to solve Math problems. For students who live in tight quarters with multiple family members, finding a place to study that is conducive to positive results is problematic. If the family only has one computer, accessing remote learning in a timely fashion may be compromised.
Food shortages and proper nutrition are factors that affect student outcomes. Families that are in need of food make this their priority; most of these families depend on schools to provide at least two meals per day, five days a week for their children. Families that have experienced temporary layoffs now must depend on their children to find employment to supplement income in an effort to provide means for the family. These students place employment and providing for their families a priority; education must wait.
Urban districts have been proactive in providing meals for families and individual schools have ponied up funds to distribute gift cards and grocery store vouchers for families to meet short-term shortfalls. Schools have reached out to outside agencies such as counseling, social work, housing authorities, and healthcare, as well as school partners to support students and families any way they can.
In summary, our urban districts must support the most basic needs of students and families first before any thought of successful navigation of remote learning can occur. For some urban families, education is important but it cannot compete with the attainment of basic family needs. Urban districts play an important role in attempting to fill the gaps. These districts provide students and families with access to equipment, supplies, and necessities in an effort for students to take advantage of educational opportunities that can support all their future hopes, dreams, and aspirations.
In this episode, Snehal Bhakta and Rachael Mann discuss looking forward while building the foundation and what’s in store for the future of education and CTE.
Blog post by Snehal:
Normally, as the school year wraps up, I try to reflect on the work of our CTE Department and myself to support our schools, principals, teachers, and most importantly our students. For whatever reason, this year feels different. Almost like that, there isn’t an end in sight at all.
The 2019-2020 school year will be known as the year education changed...no really, let’s hope that is what it is remembered as. Change is always difficult, frustrating, challenging, and a number of other words… however, in order to look forward, innovate, and truly succeed, then change must happen.
As I and many of us reflect on this past year, there are many things we can all be proud of that we did for education and our students. We began planning for more equity initiatives and increasing middle school career exploration based on Perkins V. As well as continuing to grow the current programs that align with our local industries. Yes, it was shaping up to be another “banner” year of successes and some items for growth and improvement.
Then, we entered March... the home stretch. Making summer plans, trying something new, and counting the days till the end of the school year. Unfortunately, the world stopped. It wasn’t just education... it was everything. Stay at home orders, social distancing, and this thing called “distance” or “remote” learning. Many things were closed; however, a lot isn’t… phone calls, reading, family time, exercise, laughing, and hope is not cancelled.
Now is the time to embrace what we have. Yes, we need to look forward to what the future holds...the opportunities, the hope, and the possibilities. What better time than during a global pandemic to “rebuild” education...or just blow it up and start from scratch.
Snehal Bhakta started his professional career by working in the private sector, primarily in business and technology consulting for 15 years prior to entering into public education. When the opportunity presented itself for him to lead a new Career and Technical Education(CTE) program focusing on technology within Clark County School District(CCSD), he welcomed the opportunity to fuel his passion of helping others and working with the next generation of innovators.
Currently, he is a CTE Administrator employed for the 5th largest school district in the country with over 320,000 students, focusing on ensuring Nevada’s future workforce is prepared for success. Snehal has worked on projects related to increasing student and community participation with National Job Shadow Day, started an Annual Student Workforce & Innovation Summit, promotion and growth of Career & Technical Student Organizations, and leading CCSD’s #GirlsinSTEM and #GirlsinTECH Initiative as well as supporting STEM equity programs across 59 middle and 47 high schools for all students and especially those underserved and underrepresented students.
Snehal also serves as the Affiliate Coordinator for NCWIT(National Center for Women & Information Technology), marketing and event chair for the Society of Information Management(SIM) of Las Vegas, steering committee member for the Intermountain STEM(IM STEM), and holds board positions on several other local organizations. In 2017, he was awarded the Top Tech Exec Award in the Education Category by Cox Communications and in 2019, the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity(NAPE) awarded Snehal the 2019 Rising Star award at their National Summit for Educational Equity in Washington, D.C as well as he recently received the COX Business 2019 Top Tech Lifetime Achievement Award for his work with diversity in the workforce in Southern Nevada.
By Shelly Thome
We are living in unsettling and unpredictable times. COVID-19 has taken a toll on our country’s economy, medical systems, and schools. It has also rocked the foundation of our feelings of safety, social connection, and hope.
During this COVID-19 world, we now find ourselves in, it is of increasing importance to find and then maintain balance in our lives. This need for balance is critical for educational staff. In a matter of days- not months or years- schools were asked to turn educational structures upside down and create new distance learning methods while engaging students and assuring access and equity. Educators (teachers, administrators, counselors, administrative assistants, and more) rose to the challenge and have made remote learning successful while maintaining connections to their students.
We need to look at the emotional cost to our educators and to develop strategies of support. Our educators not only became IT specialists, but they also had to create at home offices with capabilities to support learning. Those well-developed lesson plans and upcoming critical professional development courses had to be thrown out and immediately converted to a new format. All of this occurred while educators had worries about their own health and safety and cared for those in their lives that need support as well. Many now transitioned into not only teaching their students remotely but also becoming a home school teacher to their own children while balancing work duties.
To help transition our staff through this challenging time, we need to make sure we put the person before the position. District leadership, as well as every staff member, needs to continue their connections to one another, encourage office hours that allow individuals to bring their workday to a close, and to have strategies to manage stress. This can be accomplished through informative and supportive emails, regular check-ins that do not have a printed agenda attached, and through resources of support. Once our staff is cared for and emotionally healthy, they are then able to model this balance for students and the community.
CTE is one big family. During this time of COVID-19 and social distancing, let’s work together to be certain that social distancing does not equate to social isolation. Let’s help each other maintain balance and prepare for the time in which we can be together again soon without the need for virtual meetings.
Shelly Thome, LPC, CCTP, CCTSI
Shelly Thome is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Arizona. She is not only a private practice therapist but also a school counselor for over 20 years. In Shelly’s current role as the Exceptional Student Services Manager at West-MEC, she not only provides intervention resources for students and staff but is also a trainer for suicide awareness programs of More Than Sad and Youth Mental Health First Aid. Shelly also provides professional development classes such as Working with Adolescents with Anxiety, Kick Compassion Fatigue to the Curb, and Serving Exceptional Students in CTE. Shelly serves on the policy committee for the ACTE Counseling and Career Development Division and is engaged in the development of the ACTE Mentorship Program for Inclusion, Access, Equity, and Diversity. Connect with Shelly via email, Shelly.Thome@west-mec.org or on Twitter, @ThomeShelly.
In this podcast, Ken Shelton and Rachael Mann discuss remote learning in career and technical education and the equity and access issues that are magnified in the face of a global pandemic.
Excerpt from Ken's Blog:
"Distance Learning, Remote Learning, eLearning, no matter what you call it or how you package it, is not working. Here's the thing, it never had a chance in the first place. When the decision to shut down in-person schooling swept the country, even the world, educators, and support staff across the educational spectrum had to make significant adjustments. In far too many of these cases, the changes had to be implemented within just a few days. Who would have planned for a pandemic of this magnitude, let alone included something this catastrophic in their strategic plan? The problem is, no amount of planning or preparation would have shielded a significant percentage of students in schools without looking at the systemic structures in the first place. It has been seen, written, and experienced that this entire situation we are managing has revealed the deep enduring wound covered by the comfort of complacency, platitudes, and diversionary rhetoric so often prevalent in education.
“Be aware of when privilege tries to speak everyone’s stories. It’s not true.”
This entire situation is affecting so many people in so many different ways. Yes, we get the stories of how some kids are thriving during remote learning or how some educators have managed to remain closely connected with their students. There are many lessons to be learned through these examples, but they do not account for the majority. In fact, in education, we tend to highlight and celebrate the outliers while conveniently ignoring the most vulnerable, the marginalized. Continue reading this blog post here: http://kennethshelton.net/blog
Ken holds an M.A. in Education with a specialization in Educational Technology as well as New Media Design and Production. He has worked as an Educator for over 20 years and most recently taught technology at the Middle School level. As a part of his active involvement within the Educational Technology community, Ken is an Apple Distinguished Educator and a Google Certified Innovator. Ken has worked extensively at the policy level and was named to the California State Superintendent of Public Instruction's Education Technology Task Force. Ken regularly gives keynotes, presentations, consults, and leads workshops, covering a wide variety of Educational Technology, Equity and Inclusion, Multimedia Literacy, Cultural Relevance, Visual Storytelling, and Instructional Design topics. Ken is the ISTE Digital Equity PLN 2018 Excellence Award winner.
Ken has provided and continues to provide consulting support to many companies, State Departments of Education, Ministries of Education, school districts/systems Nationally and Internationally, as well as non-profits such as the California Emerging Technology Fund's School2Home program which is designed to support closing the Achievement Gap and Digital Divide at low-performing California middle schools.
Connect with Ken on Twitter, https://twitter.com/k_shelton, and visit his website, http://kennethshelton.net/home.
Project-based learning in a remote learning environment is a challenge for our Career and Technical Education programs, but it's also an opportunity to find innovative approaches to hands-on learning. In this episode, listeners will learn about tools that CTE leaders can share with teachers to help students engage in real-world projects.
Our guest for this episode is Tisha Richmond. Tisha is an innovative district Tech Integration Specialist, speaker, and author from Southern Oregon. She has taught Family and Consumer Science for 25 years and has served in various leadership roles in her school and district as well as on Oregon regional and state edtech cadres.
Tisha is the author of the book Make Learning MAGICAL, & she speaks nationally on a variety of topics related to teaching and learning in all content and grade levels, Family and Consumer Science being her specialty. To learn more about her work, visit https://www.tisharichmond.com/, and connect with her on Twitter, @tishrich.
“CTSO and CTE Programs Ruin Students and Educators for Life!” I shared this comment while working with a group of student leaders, CTE advisors and State Directors in Virginia. The statement was in reference to my thoughts about CTE programs. The statement shocked some at first, then I continued speaking.
“CTSO and CTE Programs Ruin Students and Educators for Life in a good way!” I see CTE and CTSO programs as a career and leadership incubator. A combination of soft skills and hard skills are gained through participation. These skills and knowledge will be applied to their lives and careers of those who participate. Many go on to excel personally and professionally after their CTE/CTSO Days are long gone.
Why do I use the word “ruin?” Google defines ruin as the physical destruction or disintegration of something or the state of disintegrating or being destroyed. Quite simply ruin can be a positive or negative term. I see it as a positive. Before anyone joins a CTE or CTSO they are in a certain physical or mental state. That physical or mental state is transformed through participation in to an individual who recognizes and becomes confident in their abilities. They have an understanding of the opportunities available to them and how to capitalize on those opportunities. Read more here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1z2VA195ZE8XW0b1H4OFxNg8npoDY3UQxbWoP3ch9u_M/edit?usp=sharing
In this podcast, our moderator, Rachael Mann, is joined by Frank Kitchen. Frank is “The F.R.E.S.H. Mindset Expert.” He works with Professional Associations that want their Members to Maximize their Potential and Produce the Tasty Results everyone desires. Frank’s Motivational Keynote Speeches and Training Programs energize, educate, and empower leaders and their teams to get hungry and transform their personal and professional dreams into reality. He has been blessed to speak professionally around the world for numerous associations, corporations, schools, colleges, universities, nonprofits, and civic organizations. Please contact Frank to learn how he can make your next Conference, Convention, or Training Event a F.R.E.S.H. Experience and follow him on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @FrankKitchen. www.frankkitchen.com
Blog post by: Shani Watkins, Director of West Sound Technical Skills Center
Friday, March 13, our school superintendent, along with the rest of the superintendents in our local educational service district, told us at noon that it would be our last day of school for a while. Though we knew from the sessions with the governor and state superintendent that the time was likely coming, we were hopeful that we would be out of school for a few weeks and then return.
The following Monday, our governor and superintendent of public instruction that all schools across the state were being closed. While we were already closed, it was a shock. That first week after the announcement, my focus was on helping my staff navigate their shock and feelings and help them begin to think differently about delivering career and technical education in alternative formats. Each teacher was expected to connect with every family during this time.
Once the shock subsided, we moved into figuring out what do we do to support our students and create as much of a normal learning environment during this most unusual time. Our most significant concern has been developing an equitable learning environment for all of our students. We continue to ponder how best to deliver distance learning that supports equitable student learning and supports our most vulnerable children.
Teachers are developing weekly sessions with students, whether pre-recorded ‘how-to’ videos and live sessions where they can work together. They are working to support students where they are at and encourage continued learning. Though much of what our teachers are doing would not be considered innovative, it is definitely out of their normal teaching repertoire. Teachers are simultaneously learning Google Classroom, Google Sites, Remind, and how to develop YouTube videos. Teachers are setting up ‘classrooms’ in their homes, where they can prepare demonstrations to share with students.
Last week another challenge struck when we learned that we would not be returning to school this year. Not only are our students disappointed that they won’t be able to return for the year, but the staff is also equally as upset. This poses the next concern for our technical center: what do grades look like from now until the end of the school year. The state directive requires districts to provide new learning weekly, but, does not allow the new learning to be counted against students if they do not complete the work. We determined that students would earn pass or no credit for any new learning. The concern, though, is that there will be an increased gap in learning between those that have access and those that do not.
Our next concern is how to ensure that students meet dual credit expectations for courses that articulate to college courses. Many of the students would have met the requirements had the school year been ‘normal’; however, now it is challenging to determine how best to ensure students complete the competencies with the same depth had all been ‘normal’. I am hopeful that there are written methods to show their knowledge versus demonstrating knowledge through primarily project-based, hands-on activities.
I am thankful that our superintendent, governor, and state superintendent chose earlier on to close schools in order to support the stay safe and stay healthy social distancing orders. I realize the upcoming challenges that will happen but am grateful that social distancing is working and saving lives. I am thankful for teachers that care deeply about their students and ensuring that not only do students have access to new learning, but they also have caring adults that continue to check in with them regularly.
Connect with Shani via email, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @watkins_shani
COVID-19 has profoundly transformed our education system, and this isn't necessarily a bad thing. In this episode, listeners will hear innovative approaches to online leading and learning, ways to navigate the digital divide, how to streamline processes, how to balance the roles of remote leading while parenting, homeschooling, and navigating an epidemic, what limits to place on social media intake, and so much more!
Connect with our guest, Crissy Lauterbach, on Twitter @ContactLearning or visit her website, www.contactlearning.com.
This week's guest, Aaron Polansky is the Superintendent-Director of Old Colony Regional Vocational Technical High School in Rochester, author, and keynote speaker with over 20 years of experience in the field of education. In this episode, Aaron will share how to find balance in a time of uncertainty.
“Is our delivery powerful enough to move the masses? We don’t move unless we are moved. It’s time to lead with love and teach resilience. When times are tough, we cannot buckle. We can’t curl up in fear or avoid the important. It is okay to be afraid. Growth is waiting on the other side of fear. We have an obligation to face our fears and to encourage our students to do the same. Our focus needs to shift to what’s really important? What do we need to teach during this hiatus from normalcy and how do we do it in a manner that folks would pay admission for?”
Excerpt from Reflection on Education in These Coronavirus Times by Aaron Polansky
Stay connected with Aaron:
We are seeing the impact of COVID-19 across all aspects of our lives. In light of the rapid spread of the virus, many schools across the country are closing. The move to remote learning comes with unique challenges and issues for CTE programs. This week's guest, Alisha Hyslop is the director of public policy at ACTE and plays a pivotal role in keeping Career and Technical Education leaders updated. In this episode, Alisha will share how ACTE is responding to the COVID19 pandemic, resources that are available for leaders as we move to remote learning environments, and policy changes that have been made or that are in the works at the federal level to help support schools. Please note, changes are occurring rapidly and the information shared is current as of March 26, 2020.