As I prepared to go on my journey to help football teams open the year I considered the concept of greatness.
What is it and how do I help teams and athletes achieve it? The late Muhammad Ali often said, I am the
greatest of all time. What exactly does that mean? Does that mean that he was the best boxer? A god, man or
The COVID-19 global pandemic has created an environment of unparalleled challenge for our economic,
educational, and social support systems. In the wake of these challenges, the academic and social needs
of our school-age populations and the subsequent expectations for educators to address those needs
has only increased.
In an effort to place concrete, ready-to-implement SEL strategies in the hands of more educators, more quickly, The Center for Educational Effectiveness recently released an online training course taught by SEL specialist, Dr. Greg Benner from the University of Alabama. Research shows that SEL not only improves student achievement by an average of 11 percentile points, but it also increases prosocial behaviors (such as kindness, sharing and empathy), improves student attitudes toward school, and reduces depression and stress among students (Durlak et al., 2011). In the six-module SEL training, called THE WHOLE EDUCATOR SERIES, Dr. Benner asserts that the many benefits of implementing strong SEL strategies don’t end with the students, but can be of vast benefit to educators themselves, decreasing their own stress levels and potential for burnout - a critical point given that job-related stress is the primary reason for 43% of educators leaving teaching before and during the pandemic (RAND Corp., 2021).
As a part of our research partnership with The University of Alabama College of Education, The
Akribos Group is pleased to offer our enthusiastic support for The Whole Educator Series. The
program was conceptualized and founded by Dr. Greg Benner, O’Sullivan Professor of Special
Education, and Implementation Science at The University of Alabama, who is a recognized leader in
Whole Child transformation programs.
Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) Dean James E. Ryan states, “Right now, there exists an
almost ironclad link between a child’s ZIP code and their chances of success.” In this five-part blog
series I have questioned policy and practice, over reliant on standardized test scores and indirectly the
standardized movement, against the stark reality of few schools providing transformative opportunities
for students inside of their school systems.
John F. Kennedy stated, “Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education.”
The quote is resonant, particularly in this time as since March of 2020, school operations and education
delivery have been highly variable across our country. However, it is overly convenient to attribute our
difficulty in getting timely supports to children solely because of the COVID pandemic.
In my first two pieces as guest contributor, we focused on the urgency of what some refer to as the
“twin pandemics,” social unrest and COVID 19, causing us to need access to high quality data to ensure
we are framing the issues unique to each school system during these tumultuous times. In addition to
having high quality data to frame clear problems of practice, it is essential each school organization
consistently measure and build high-quality culture, as absent high-quality culture, little work
benefitting children gets done.
In my last piece as a guest contributor, we covered the critical need to have actionable data to help our
systems navigate through and beyond the COVID 19 pandemic. The title, To Set Your Course, You Must
First Know Where You Are, applies to the following four data domains that we work in as professional
Business sector author Patrick Lencioni stated, “If you could get all the people in an
organization rowing in the same direction, you could dominate any industry, in any market,
against any competition, at any time.”
By: Grant Lichtman, Recognized Thought Leader and Akribos Guest Contributor
What can a wildly diverse group of architects, engineers, educators, and district administrators teach us about how to transform the K-12 learning experience? Plenty.
As I posted last week, I am involved in helping to design and build a new public middle school in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Our charge: build the best school in America and make it a core of the community. As I mentioned in that post, such an audacious goal would not be possible were it not for the most “obstinately visionary” (my new favorite hashtag!) group of district leaders I have ever worked with.
As we conclude the 2020-2021 academic year, The Akribos Group would like to express our sincere
appreciation to the numerous educational professionals who have successfully navigated the
unprecedented challenges of the past fourteen months, in response to the COVID 19 Pandemic.
Throughout this time, we have witnessed the unwavering dedication and commitment of educational
professionals, at multiple levels, as they have responded to the unique and far-reaching implications
resulting from this unparalleled experience.
The Alabama Whole Community Whole Child (WC2) partnership is a decade-long blueprint for sustainable and comprehensive community-wide change. To be successful, community-wide sustainable change must embrace common vision, language, and experiences to address common conditions that give rise to mental, emotional, behavioral, and health difficulties. Common solutions to address common conditions include shared goals, strategies, and aligned supports ensure that every youth is safe, supported, engaged, healthy, and challenged in schools and in the community-at-large. In this article, we discuss the following aspects of the WC2: 1) The need for a public health approach to sustainable change; and 2) the vision of the WC2 model.
This week, I participated in a series of Zoom calls with classroom teachers around the country. While we focused on the academic and social, emotional, and behavioral goals of our five-year federal School Climate Transformation Grants, we spent most of our time—not surprisingly—talking about ways to teach students for the rest of the school year.
Charles Plumb was a US Navy jet pilot in Vietnam. After 75 combat missions, his plane was destroyed by a surface-to-air missile. Plumb ejected and parachuted into enemy hands. He was captured and spent 6 years in a communist Vietnamese prison. He survived the ordeal and now lectures on lessons learned from that experience!
Both observation and personal experience are powerful instructional tools, but the key is to be alert, have a teachable attitude, and open to the instruction. For me, some of the most powerful and memorable lessons have been born out of specific situations and personal relationships. Some of those situations and circumstances were characterized by success and celebration while others were delivered through the school of adversity in the university of hard knocks. The personal relationships that have had the greatest impact, both personally and professionally, are those that taught me to graciously treasure the moment or courageously weather the storm, depending on the circumstances that confronted me in this often-unpredictable journey called life.