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March 2017 Teacher Newsletter

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Teacher Voice & Opportunities to Support Students

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Teacher Voice & Opportunities to Support Students

The Rodel Teacher Council Wants To Hear From You

The Rodel Teacher Council is studying social and emotional learning (SEL) in Delaware and the nation and needs your input! Please take 15 minutes to share your knowledge of, attitudes, and beliefs toward SEL through this online survey. Individual responses will be kept confidential and will not be attributed to individuals.


Your responses will be compiled to create a clearer picture for educators and policymakers of what practices and programs are happening now and what else might be needed to make sure every child is supported socially, emotionally, and academically. The survey closes on March 17.

Complete The Survey Here

Conference Opportunities &
Requests for Input

Early Career Teacher Survey (Survey Closes Mar. 10)
Delaware’s Hope Street Group National Teacher Fellow, Robyn Howton, is conducting a brief survey of second and third year teachers to better understand their experiences. The purpose of the survey is to better understand how teacher preparation programs can prepare teacher candidates for the realities of the classroom. After completing the six question survey, fill out the subsequent form for the opportunity to win one of three $50 Amazon gift cards.
Delaware’s 23rd Annual Inclusion Conference (Mar. 15, Dover)
The ​Inclusion ​Conference ​is ​designed ​to ​address ​the ​needs ​of ​educators, ​parents, ​policymakers, ​service ​providers, ​and ​child ​care ​providers ​involved ​with ​or ​interested ​in ​promoting ​inclusion ​for ​all ​from ​birth ​to ​21.

2017 LRNG Innovators Challenge (Applications due Mar. 16)
LRNG Innovators has a new grant challenge, inviting educators to imagine engaging ways to help young people explore their interests, igniting a passion that can lead to college, to a career, or having a positive impact on their community. Proposals may include programs, curricula, or projects that actively assist youth to discover interests connecting the spheres of their lives, both in and out of school, and provide potential future opportunities.

3rd Annual Delaware Pathways Conference (Mar. 29, Wilmington)
Partners throughout Delaware are collaborating to help students prepare for life after graduation. Join leaders from business, education, and state and community organizations at the Annual Delaware Pathways Conference, and explore how Delaware’s workforce system is to guiding young people toward meaningful career and postsecondary experiences. Attendees will hear from legislators on the future of Delaware Pathways; business leaders who offer work-based learning opportunities; community organizations who are focusing on programs for youth; and students who will share their Pathways stories.

Blended and Personalized Learning Conference (Mar. 31, Providence, RI)
This event is a chance for educators and leaders to discuss blended learning as it exists today on the ground – both in terms of the day-to-day implementation in blended classrooms, and the strategies and systems that have effectively supported replication and scale across schools and districts. Hosted by the Highlander Institute with program support from the Christensen Institute and the Learning Accelerator, the Blended and Personalized Learning Conference enjoys strong endorsements from the education community.

Making A Difference Conference (Mar. 31, Dover)
The Delaware Association for the Education of Young Children partners each spring with Delaware Head Start Association (DHSA), with support from Delaware Department of Education for the annual Making A Difference in Early Childhood: A Conference for Early Childhood Professionals.

ECET2 Delaware Recap
Educators from all across Delaware descended on the DelTech Terry Campus for a day of teacher-led training and celebration.

The first-ever ECET2 Delaware: Connecting Innovative Educators brought together teachers from across the state for an inspirational and empowering day of teacher-led and teacher-focused programming.

Over the course of six hours, attendees celebrated teacher leadership, learned about innovative classroom practices, explored technology in the classroom at the demo lab, and built connections with other educators. All sessions were led by teachers.

ECET2 stands for Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teaching and Teachers. Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Teacher 2 Teacher, the national movement has spurred more than 111 regional convenings in 27 host states, and over 19,000 teachers have attended an ECET2 event.

10 Must Read Stories






Personalized Learning Tip of the Month

This playbook shares the findings of three researchers who set off to discover what K–12 schools can learn from the best-run organizations in America.

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The Importance of Employability Skills

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Blog post by Jermaine Williams, cooperative employment coordinator at St. Georges Technical High School and Rodel Teacher Council member

As the cooperative employment coordinator at St. Georges Technical High School, my job, in conjunction with our career and technical instructors, is to usher our senior students out into the working world as employed adults.

It’s a tough job, especially considering that we have 254 seniors spread across 15 different career programs, which span from construction to automotive to business to early childhood to food service and nursing. We connect with local employers throughout Delaware to get our seniors placed in co-op jobs—real, in-the-field job experiences in their industry of interest.

The good news? Our students have the chops. St. Georges does an amazing job of arming our students with the technical skills needed for the jobs of today.

But what about the so-called “soft skills?” Often times, those special skills that bosses love but teenagers often lack—like communication, initiative, punctuality, attendance, attitude—can be a challenge.

Employability skills are a huge priority in our school. They can be the difference between gaining and maintaining a job; from simply getting a foot in the door to advancing through a career. And they translate to virtually every facet of professional life.

That’s why each marking period, I send out a rubric to our co-op employers. They are tasked with grading our students on a slate of 10 employability skills, which gets incorporated into their overall career program grade. For some students, this is a breeze. Others need a gentle push. That’s where the employer feedback helps.

I have noticed that a lot of students struggle with the concept of “initiative.” It’s tough convincing a 17-year-old that simply completing a task at the workplace shouldn’t be the end of your contribution. I try to encourage seniors to avoid complacency during their co-op and work 1-on-1 with them to seek out other ways to help and improve. I’m also developing an online module for Schoology that will allow students to improve their skills at home through videos, PowerPoints, readings, and quizzes.

At schools in the New Castle County Vo-Tech District, these employability skills are woven into our career programs. I firmly believe this is key in preparing our students to be career and college ready.

I’m also encouraged that these skills—often found under the umbrella of “social emotional skills”—are gaining more attention and traction throughout the educational ecosystem. Even the North Star, the centerpiece vision found in Student Success 2025, includes attributes like persistence, critical thinking, and problem-solving. These are exactly the types of skills that all students should have in spades by the time they graduate from high school, whether they are in a career and technical program or not.

I know this because our co-op employers tell me directly. They love our students because our students are ready to thrive in the workplace environment and jump in as valued colleagues. More often than not, it’s the soft skills that provide a firm footing in a given career.

How the “Whole Child” Approach is Transforming Education in Delaware

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As concerns about over-testing and overemphasizing test scores persist, the “whole child” approach to education is gaining ground. The non-academic attributes that prepare young people for success in the real world—think character, grit, and growth mindset—are beginning to take a more prominent place in the education reform conversation. A new focus on the whole child could be transformative to K-12 education.

Here are some of the main ideas behind the whole child approach and its connection to social and emotional learning. Then we’ll get you up to speed with what’s already taking place in Delaware.


Social and Emotional Learning 101

Experts agree that student success depends on more than grades. The whole child approach takes into account environmental factors in the classroom and at home, where children develop their social and emotional skills. But what exactly is social and emotional learning?

According to the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), social and emotional learning is defined as the process through which students acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. In other words, it’s how students develop the skills and dispositions to be successful in school, work, and life.

CASEL. (2017). Social and Emotional Learning Diagram


Social and emotional skills are more influenced by environmental factors than we thought. Factors such as poverty, education level, food security, discrimination, and housing play a big role in the process through which students deal with stress, how they communicate, and social awareness. For example, students who face consistent turmoil in their home lives may have more difficulty focusing on schoolwork or building relationships with their peers. That in turn can influence how a student performs in school—both behaviorally and academically. There are evidence-based approaches to supporting students and helping them develop coping skills and other strategies for managing the stress and overcoming these obstacles.


Focusing on social and emotional learning pays off—for students and teachers. According to a meta-analysis of more than 200 studies involving more than 270,000 students, not only did students participating in evidence-based SEL programs show an 11 percent gain in academic achievement, but they also showed:

  • Improved classroom behavior
  • Better stress management
  • Higher self esteem
  • Improved attitude about others and school


Social emotional learning is already transforming K-12 education in Delaware

From policy recommendations and conferences to local research and school-level programs, Delaware is already taking the lead when it comes to implementing social and emotional learning as a whole child approach.


Student Success 2025

Social and emotional Learning is embedded in each of the six core areas of Student Success 2025. Student Success 2025 put forth more than 40 recommendations that take a whole child approach to education—including counseling supports for students, an equitable funding system that takes into account student characteristics and needs, wrap-around services, home visiting for early learners, and a more holistic approach to physical and mental health services.

Western Sussex Summit

With a focus on meeting the social and emotional needs of all students, the annual Western Sussex Summit is a collaborative professional development conference hosted at Woodbridge High School and attended by educators and specialists, as well as mental health organizations and state agencies. Check out their website for post-summit materials and additional social and emotional resources.

Compassionate Schools Learning Collaborative

With support from a Casey Family Programs grant, over 1,500 educators in Delaware have received training on trauma and its impact on brain development, learning, and behavior. The Compassionate Schools Learning Collaborative meets quarterly to share effective trauma-responsive practices, including self-care strategies for educators from multiple schools across the state. Check out their page on the Delaware Department of Education website to access additional resources.

Delaware Positive Behavior Support Project (PBS)

PBS is coordinated, data-based decision making and instructional programming that focuses on teaching adaptive behaviors and discouraging disruptive behaviors. Currently, 147 public schools across the state are implementing PBS, with substantial implementation support and technical assistance from UD’s Center for Disabilities Studies.

Delaware “Whole Child” Surveys

There are a number of surveys in Delaware that measure various aspects of students’ physical, mental health, as well as the school climate, which also have effects on student’s social and emotional wellbeing.


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