The role of the educator is expanding. Not only are teachers subject-matter experts in their field, but they also support students’ mental and physical health, identity, and social and emotional well-being. In short, educators are tasked with supporting the holistic needs of students.
While educators agree about the importance of holistic development, many acknowledge the barriers they face when it comes to implementation. Educators often struggle to find the time or resources to fit connecting with students into their demanding schedules. Additionally, relationship building requires skills that may or may not be intuitive. Educators are also confronted with issues of entrenched mindsets and systemic inequity.
At Along, we recognize the enormous obstacles educators face in and outside of the classroom, especially after a year like this one. Educators need easy-to-use tools to dive in and start connecting with their students, even before their first day at school. This is why members of our team participated in a webinar hosted by Transcend Education — to share the difference an at-the-ready tool like Along can make.
You can watch the webinar here or check out some takeaways below.
The foundation for developmental relationships
When we talk about developmental relationships, we’re talking about something fundamental to a student’s success. As Susan Menkel, Success Manager – Learning and Development with Along, explained, “Developmental relationships support students’ skill development and growth. And as a result, students can discover who they are, they develop the abilities to shape their own lives, and they learn how to engage with and contribute to the world around them.”
Along acts as the backbone to developmental relationships. It’s a dedicated space for educators and students to check in one-on-one throughout the school year. It’s a way for educators to get to know what’s really on students’ minds and for students to have a place where they feel comfortable voicing their opinions. In other words, it’s a place to express ideas and care.
In overwhelming numbers, the Search Institute discovered that showing care is at the foundation of their Developmental Relationship Framework. Along incorporates this framework into its whole-child approach to teaching and learning. As a result, the relationships from Along can make all the difference in a student’s development and academic journey.
More value with less time
Throughout Along’s pilot phase, we received educator feedback. Many shared that they only had 1-hour a week to dedicate to connecting with their students. Menkel experienced this challenge when she was a 6th-grade science teacher who had 70+ students. She recalled, “At the end of each day, I would replay the day on the way home in my mind and try to think about, Did I even get to speak to every single student in my class today? What interactions did I have? […] Who did I miss?”
Along provides a solution for the time pressure that educators face. It allows educators to give individualized attention to their students through videos and text messages that take as little as 15 seconds. Plus, students appreciate the ability to respond to their teacher’s questions through their mobile phones—giving them multiple access points to join the conversation.
School leaders have also learned the benefits of checking in with students. Still, they have other priorities to balance with regular student check-ins, especially when returning to in-person learning. With Along, they won’t need hours of training to get started. Educators can begin using Along in a few easy steps and can check-in with students at a time that works best for their schedule, even outside of class.
Ultimately, Along aims to be a tool that helps educators break through the barriers they face for connecting with students. Whether it’s overcoming time, resources, or all of the above, Along is constantly working on ways for educators to support and care for students. Because as Menkel noted, “Showing care is square one.”