Featured Community Apr 25

School leaders unite over the power of teacher-student connections

Pictured: the school leaders in attendance plus the Along Gradient team and members of the CZI Along team.

Here at Along, we are passionate about transforming schools into communities with positive culture and engaged learners. We continuously make updates to our free platform for building teacher-student connections so that we can help create thriving campuses around the country.

However, no classroom tool is successful without a dynamic group of educators who share a commitment to our students’ success. What makes Along work is our foundational approach to working with amazing school leaders and educators from coast to coast, and incorporating their  feedback so that we can make Along even more responsive to their needs.

To further inform our work, we recently hosted an in-person meet-up for a group of our school leaders to network and learn from each other. The day-long event, hosted by the Along team at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative office in Redwood City, California, brought  educators together to workshop solutions on prioritizing and creating even more impact through stronger teacher-student connections.

Learning from the wins and challenges at schools around the country

The meet-up began with a dynamic session steered by the school leaders, who each shared their greatest wins and challenges from this school year. They recognized many like-minded concerns, including the need to address rising student absenteeism and behavioral issues, and how to increase a sense of belonging on their campuses. School leaders strategized and collaborated with each other on solutions-based approaches that they could immediately implement at their schools.

“The consultancy session at the beginning was so helpful to get feedback from other brilliant educators,” shared Mark Lenz, director of scholar support and interventions at Catalyst Maria High School in Chicago, Illinois. “I walked away with some clear steps to take back.”

Coming together to strategize for ‘24-’25

The day continued with a co-building design session, during which the school leaders provided ideas and feedback about how to expand the impact of Along. 

“Working with the designers elevated my thought process for what could be possible,” said Tanis Griffin, school leader at Thompson Intermediate School in Houston, Texas. “Discussing my problem of practice and brainstorming solutions with designers was a great experience.”

Closing out the day, school leaders made individual plans for how they would execute strategies for building teacher-student connections in the ‘24-’25 school year. They analyzed their current experience using Along and came up with new ways to work with their staff and students for even greater impact.

School leaders came away with new ideas and support from a group of relationship-focused colleagues from around the country. As Joe Dan Lovato, school leader from Turquoise Trail Charter School in Santa Fe, New Mexico said, “This was an amazing opportunity and cool space. I would like to continue to network and communicate with this group of leaders and professionals.”

Ideas for school leaders:

  • Educator feedback is critical for edtech development, but talking about your challenges is an even more important step for coming up with solutions.
  • Leaving space and time to connect with peers about your school is not only refreshing, but can be incredibly beneficial in working to address campus challenges and inspiring new ways of thinking.
  • Prioritize time to make a plan around back to school connection building on your campus!

We look forward to sharing more insights from our school leader community. Stay tuned in this space, and feel free to reach out to our team with your own stories at media@gradientlearning.org.

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