Kenton sets example for school support staff PD

Support staff
School support staff members contribute to positive conditions for student learning.

When we talk about creating a positive school culture in which all students feel safe and valued by the adults around them, most of us remember to nod to the staff members who feed, transport, clean up after and otherwise assist students. After all, among school support staff members are the first and last people children see every school day, the people who comfort them when they are sick or forget their important projects at home, those who provide at least one nutritious meal every day, and those who help our most vulnerable children read, compute and navigate their schools.

We talk the talk. But how well do we walk the walk? How clearly are expectations set for how bus drivers, secretaries, cooks and paraprofessionals should interact with children? How much training is provided for support staff to meet those expectations?

Kenton City Schools Superintendent Jennifer Penczarski put action behind her words more than a year ago when she commissioned a professional development series for school support staff that goes beyond the typical (or mandated) safety and software trainings.

In Kenton, the district has undertaken a comprehensive re-envisioning of students’ learning experience, tackling everything from technology infrastructure to grading practices. The superintendent acted on the established values of her district and community by seeking professional learning opportunities designed to help school support staff better contribute to positive learning environments and higher academic achievement. It’s the type of information that isn’t covered during CDL licensure or on Civil Service exams.

I’ve involved his family, the school administration and even older students on the bus. I have tried everything. Now what?

In one of those sessions last week, bus drivers, cooks, secretaries and paraprofessionals debated some challenges any educator would recognize as tough issues with no simple answers:

  • How do I get students to complete their assignments when they flat-out refuse to participate? I know it would help if they knew me. But I have limited time with them and some have really hard shells. How can I make enough time to develop relationships and trust when I am expected to keep them on task?
  • A student on my bus has ADHD and his medicine doesn’t last all day. If he’s doing well during the morning route, I know it will be a rough ride in the afternoon (and vice versa). For his safety, I need him to comply with the bus rules. I’ve involved his family, the school administration and even older students on the bus. I have tried everything. Now what?
  • Sometimes I think students are getting in trouble on purpose because it gets them out of class and they want attention. How do we respond and reward better choices without unintentionally incentivizing poor behavior?

For our part, the EnvisionEdPlus team shared the Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets and led brainstorming about how to improve external assets, the environmental conditions that solid research tells us are associated with student success. We discussed good practices and pointed to additional resources for those challenging situations. But, clearly, the most valuable part of the day was the mentorship that participants provided one another through stories, sympathy and encouragement.

Even the most dubious about sitting through three hours of professional development – “I was told I could clean my bus instead, but my bus is already clean.” – shared deeply personal stories about students he’s known, and in turn, about his own experiences. He brought to the table practices, like visiting new students’ homes to meet their parents, that many district leaders would envy.

Talking to the staff in Kenton gave us at EnvisionEdPlus a heightened sense of urgency about a project we’ve started in recent months. We are identifying some of the best cooks, custodians, bus drivers, secretaries and paraprofessionals around and capturing their thoughts on video. We would like to see them in action and talk to them about what makes them great at their jobs. Then we plan to share their best strategies with their peers across the country.

We certainly know of good candidates in Kenton. Whom in your schools do you wish you could replicate? Whom in your schools deserves to be recognized for the important work they do to support students’ learning? [contact-form to=’,’ subject=’Awesome Support Staff Nomination’][contact-field label=’Your Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Your Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Name of Awesome Support Staff member’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Reason for nomination’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form] . We would love to hear from you!

Our Courses

Image Course Description Price Created On Last Updated On categories_ID
Supporting Families (Level 1) Consider the differences between engaging and supporting eight types of parents or family members you might encounter. Reflect on your past experiences with each of those types. Create and implement an action plan to improve your support for families who need it. 0.00 2020/07/17 2022/03/24 6
STEAMing Up Literacy (Level 1) The content in this course is designed to begin your understanding of STEAM integration (design thinking) and apply this knowledge to your own classroom. You will have the opportunity to implement a mini lesson and receive feedback about your lesson. Two “office hours” will be available to chat with the instructor and others enrolled in this course. 0.00 2021/01/09 2022/03/24 5
Trauma Brain (Level 1) The brain is constantly changing and molding in response to the environment. These changes impact student learning. This is especially true in terms of trauma. This training is designed to help participants learn what goes on in the brain and how they can set up a learning environment for each of the students in their class. 0.00 2021/01/30 2022/03/24 4
STEAMing Up Literacy (Level 2) The content in this course is designed to begin your understanding of Problem Based Learning(PBL) and apply this knowledge to your own classroom. You will have the opportunity to implement a mini lesson and receive feedback about your lesson. 0.00 2021/02/23 2022/03/24 5
High Quality Literacy Instruction (Level 1 & 2) Core content includes an overview of Ohio’s Plan to Raise Literacy Achievement, evidence-based literacy practices, and resources and tools for literacy instruction. Participants will create, implement and improve two classroom-based literacy strategies (in-person, blended or remote). 0.00 2021/02/23 2022/03/24 5
Supporting Families (Level 2) In Engaging Families Through Support - Level 1, you learned about eight types of parents/caregivers and reflected on your past experiences with each type, culminating in a plan to better engage specific types as partners in their children's education. During this 8-hour asynchronous course you will delve deeper in your understanding of the eight types of parents/caregivers by speaking with individual family members you work with, discovering what they need from you and your program, and implementing an action plan informed by the actual families you serve. Doing so will give you sustainable skills and strategies to build stronger family engagement year after year. 0.00 2021/03/07 2022/03/30 6
Differentiated & Engaged Instruction (Level 1) Differentiation is effective instruction that is responsive to the learner’s preferences, interests and their readiness. It could be explained as a framework for thinking about your teaching and your student’s learning. This course discusses differentiation as an effective teaching tool. Included are many resources and strategies to help meet the learning needs of each student. Participants will learn through various articles, videos, examples, strategies and resources to adapt lessons to meet the needs of each student in their classrooms. 0.00 2021/03/18 2022/03/24 5
Trauma Brain (Level 2) This course gives an advanced understanding of the brain. including differences between “active” and “relational” based brains, trauma-related behaviors, and strategies to reach and teach trauma-impacted students so that they can re-engage in learning. Participants will learn about the range of thinking that a brain does, explore how students fit into the range of thinking, and discover healthy ways of engaging the full range of thinking. 0.00 2021/05/31 2022/03/24 4
Differentiated & Engaged Instruction (Level 2) This 8-hour, self-paced course is facilitated by Laurie Trotter, an EnvisionEdPlus Instructional Specialist. The course explores advanced differentiation as an effective instructional method that is responsive to the learner’s preferences and interests. Create, implement, and improve a lesson plan to engage all learners. Participants will learn through various articles, videos, examples, strategies, and resources to be able to be proficient in starting to adapt lessons to meet all needs of students in their classroom. Prerequisite: Differentiated and Engaged Instruction (Bronze Badge). 0.00 2021/05/31 2022/03/24 5
Creativity Belongs in the Classroom (Level 1) Encourage lifelong learning, improve focus, reduce anxiety and enhance thinking in your classroom or program. Creativity is a learned and trained process for getting the most out of higher level thinking and problem solving of your students. Learn how to embed creativity easily into your lessons, using strategies that will help unlock your students ability to be innovative thinkers and problem solvers. This course is appropriate for anyone who works with youth and also satisfies the HQPD Gifted competencies of A, B, and D. 0.00 2022/01/14 2022/04/10 5

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