2020 – a year of immense challenges, but also innumerable creative solutions. Educators, parents, and students faced big questions: How do we create an effective virtual learning experience? How do we foster community and a positive school culture when we are physically separated? For many of our partner schools, LiveSchool bridged that gap -- bringing together teachers and their students despite the circumstances.
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LiveSchool may have originally been adopted to facilitate classroom culture, but schools quickly found that our system fit the unique needs of remote learning. Thanks to LiveSchool’s built-in flexibility, educators easily shifted their rubrics to reflect (and reward) positive behaviors specific to a virtual learning environment.
Many schools -- like Edison School of the Arts in Indianapolis -- even launched LiveSchool amidst the challenges of 2020, with great success. Principal Amy Berns used LiveSchool to nimbly make the leap from in-person to virtual learning. “We met with a group of our core teachers and our student response team to determine how we could still roll out this new system effectively and get buy-in from our kids. We asked ourselves: what are virtual expectations we can recognize and reward students for, versus the expectations we would have if we were in the building?”
Edison’s LiveSchool launch resulted in a significant school culture improvement, even though many students were (and continue to be) remote. By surveying students, Edison was able to assess their progress. “Our school climate prior to using LiveSchool was at a 44% overall and it's up to 56%,” said Berns. Adult support at school went from 66% to 70%, and I would say that LiveSchool has contributed heavily towards this.”
Good relationships – between teachers and students, and among students themselves – are the fundamental building blocks of a healthy school culture. With social distancing preventing in-person interaction, educators used Liveschool to hone in on the importance of good communication and feedback.
“The building of relationships is integral in normal education, but we found it to be even more vital during the pandemic,” says Jayson Godfrey, Dean of Students at the Renaissance Charter School at Crown Point in Ocoee, Florida. “[Using] our new connections to conference with a student to reinforce the expectations, while taking a moment to understand why the student did the behavior, took precedence over moving straight to consequences.”
Godfrey recognized LiveSchool’s power to facilitate social growth despite pandemic isolation – at his school, the House System established a sense of connectedness among staff and students. “The idea of social distancing became more of a negative connotation without it meaning to. We wanted to focus on the positives. Social distancing became physical distancing because we still wanted the students to be kids and socialize, while also realizing that life can give them negative situations, but how they view it can really change the dynamic of the lasting impact.”
With the shift to at-home learning, schools reworked their LiveSchool rewards systems to reflect the students’ new reality. Berns and her colleagues at Edison coordinated with parents, who could come to the school to pick up the students’ rewards. Similarly, Paul Kennedy, Director of Scholar Advancement and PBIS Coordinator at Global Academies in Philadelphia, worked with his school to develop creative rewards that kept students safely engaged with LiveSchool and their peers.
“We’ve given out gift cards, we’ve sent care packages to people’s houses, instructional packages,” says Kennedy. “We’ve had a DJ playing music, virtual lunch with a principal and lunch with an Academy Leader. We’ve even had Movie Night!”
As the world begins to turn a corner in the COVID era, many educators are faced with the challenge of managing hybrid classrooms, as some students return to school in person while others remain remote. LiveSchool allows for both of these scenarios – schools can easily adapt rubrics and rewards to make sure every student feels included, and the House System connects kids with common goals, regardless of where they are learning.
2020 was a tumultuous year for both students and educators, but LiveSchool helped students develop a grounding connection to their school, along with their own sense of autonomy and confidence.
For Berns, Liveschool provided a positive focus for both educators and students amidst an overwhelming societal setting: “In a year where so much happened, from politics to COVID…[LiveSchool] helped build camaraderie within the school and a sense of belonging.”
Godfrey and his staff realized how capable students can be when facing unique circumstances, using LiveSchool to guide students as they discovered new things about themselves. “Kids can and want to be self-autonomous, if we can provide the structure and reinforcement needed to foster the ability. We were able to demonstrate that kids DO want to learn. Kids DO want structure, Kids DO want accountability. Kids will rise to the level of expectation that you provide and reinforce; but most of all kids DO want to have a connection with the adults in their building. Kids show grace and understanding.”
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