“When we found out that we would be distance learning, our first thought was to let people know we are still here,” Mississippi Principal Sara Jane Russell was concerned about safety and well-being first. “Take care of your family first because safety, overall emotional well being, is very important to me.”
To say a lot changed in the spring of 2020 would be an understatement. As giant industries struggled and the world went into lock down, it felt like everything was grinding to a halt. Educators, however, quickly made adjustments and kept working.
“At first I was just nervous,” shares Arkansas teacher Shannon Hum. “Not being able to see the kid’s faces—I was really concerned with that. And whether there was stability.” Moving to remote learning was not an easy task. Then again, it wasn’t optional.
“We are using SchoolStatus to help us document our contact with parents in this most crucial time,” explains Lena Tatum, a Federal Programs Specialist in Mississippi. All communication made with SchoolStatus, whether calls, texts, or emails, becomes part of the student record. This cumulative profile houses all other integrated data points.
“Some parents don’t use Facebook (our other communications broadcast avenue), but parents and most of their children have a phone.” SchoolStatus tracks information sent to stakeholders for compliance measures, doesn’t require parents to download an app, and during the time of remote learning, allows for teachers and administrators to be sure every family is accounted for. “With SchoolStatus we are able to document our outreach to and our interaction with parents,” says Tatum.
COMMUNICATION is DATA
What happens to the content of those conversations―where calls are logged, who has access to text records, whether or not calls are recorded―is the difference between districts using a tool with integrated student data and communication, and districts with decentralized communication and data processes. Fall 2020 is going to present a new set of struggles for educators, and having both student work as well as parent conversations from the spring recorded and available for review means no one has to go into the new year blind. Knowing which parents have been in contact with the school and what information was exchanged with teachers is going to be essential to start the next teacher off right―along, of course, with more common data points.
“It’s able to pull from Powerschool, Case21, NWEA, and all these different outlets!” shares Texas Teacher Beth Sullivan. “I love how with SchoolStatus I can hit ‘Student Card’ and I get their name, their birth date, their history, their grades, their parents—and I get everything all in one place.” All data is imported automatically―meaning data is also disseminated to your team safely. “Teachers love it because they are not having to go to five different outlets to get all this information.”
A digital profile of all student data helps fill the gaps―especially after many state tests were canceled. “Since we will not have that data, SchoolStatus has been very important to gather up the practice tests and midterm grades and get the whole picture. It includes the previous school year data so we can know the appropriate placements based on the data in front of us,” shares Sullivan.
MOVING FORWARD WITH CONFIDENCE
Disparate data points between multiple platforms increase your chance of missing an important interaction or opportunity for growth. Moving forward, teams will not have the same access to each other daily for reviewing student data or discussing relationships and conversations with parents. Having a tool with integrated student data and built in communication oversight is crucial for continuity when dealing with scheduled and unexpected stretches of remote learning.
“I have found SchoolStatus to be not just helpful, but absolutely vital for distance learning.” Mississippi teacher Anita Graham has every data point about each student plus tools to communicate what she’s seeing with parents on one screen, “I have used other messaging services but I find that the comprehensive nature of SchoolStatus puts it head and shoulders above the other services.” Districts with a combined data and communication solution have pivoted to remote learning without experiencing the big disconnect common across the U.S.
THANKS TO OUR CONTRIBUTORS!
Sara Jane Russell, Principal, Desoto County Schools
Shanon Hum, Teacher, Pulaski County Special School District
Lena Tatum, Federal Programs Specialist, Western Line School District
Beth Sullivan, Teacher, Sanger Independent School District
Anita Graham, Teacher, Union Public School District