Large Districts: Take a Page Out of Smaller Districts’ Playbooks

Large Districts: Take a Page Out of Smaller Districts’ Playbooks

Listen to Classroom Teachers to Solve Interoperability Problems

According to a recent EdWeek Market Brief, K-12 district leaders rarely adopt solutions for use based on teachers’ suggestions. While this won’t be surprising to educators teaching in large districts, it illuminates one of the reasons for major implementation hurdles as large district leaders roll out major initiatives with good intentions but poor grounding.

When I taught math at an alternative high school in New York City, I had a set of mandated tools which I had to use, but some of them didn’t meet my classroom needs. To better serve my students, I patched together a bunch of disparate edtech tools to ensure the materials were appropriately differentiated and accessible anywhere at any time. This meant devoting an inordinate amount of time copy-pasting achievement data from one system to another to ensure compliance with our set of mandated tools. Maybe my use case might have better informed other learning communities serving a similar student demographic. Maybe this information would have created an opportunity for school and district decision makers to more effectively evaluate the technologies they had purchased.

Why aren’t teachers considered a source of truth for large districts seeking product solutions? Teachers are on the front lines for our children, playing coach, mentor, counselor, and mediator before, during, and after the school day. They pour their blood, sweat, and tears into writing curriculum that guides students in making meaningful connections across concepts. They explore and incorporate new tools and instructional models in the name of student achievement, even when that means working late into the night and on the weekends.

There is some good news. According to that same EdWeek Market Brief, about three out of five small district leaders proactively seek teacher recommendations before procuring education products. Of course, smaller districts are inherently set up to be more responsive because they can have less bureaucracy. At Kiddom, we see this very clearly, as our K-12 operating system is gaining the most traction in small-to-medium sized districts, where leaders have their ears to the ground (and their eyes in the classroom). They recognize that any major new instructional initiative requires staff buy-in first, and to do that, you need to understand the tools your teachers have already chosen for their classrooms.

According to a report by SETDA entitled, State Education Leadership for Interoperability: Leveraging Data for Academic Excellence states continue to face massive challenges in making data readily available for use by decision makers, teachers, parents, and students. The report illustrates how interoperability can help states and districts better achieve student learning goals, in that “interoperability can allow for a balance between high quality information and local use of that information to support teaching and learning.” If half of K-12’s large district leaders continue to ignore teacher recommendations, and we assume that those teachers will continue to use tools that work best for their classrooms, how can we solve the interoperability issue in education?

To institute change and ensure decisions are made using high quality information, large district leaders should take a page out of their smaller peers’ playbook and create meaningful opportunities for pilot programs to report results directly to district leaders. If they don’t, they will only perpetuate the interoperability problem plaguing all of us in education, from students and teachers to district administrators to education technology companies.

If you’re the leader of a large district, you might remember LAUSD’s infamous $1.3 billion 700,000 iPads-for-all initiative. This blunder could have easily been avoided by engaging classroom teachers in decision-making processes, making critical improvements to the plan, and then building authentic buy-in. When we started Kiddom more than three years ago, we first focused on building tools needed to enhance the experience for individual teachers and students. By focusing on classrooms first, we discovered a disconnect between teachers and their administration bodies. So we listened and worked closely with public school administrators to understand how to connect school systems from the top-down and bottom-up.

At Kiddom, we recognize the need for change management when implementing new initiatives such as personalized learning, blended learning, and/or instructional models that are more student-centered. Our team of success managers are former educators focused on acting as thought partners for administrators, and connectors between school communities tackling similar challenges. We work alongside you to provide contextualized, targeted resources to guide teachers through long-term changes. If you’re interested in learning more about how we’re helping schools and districts measure and act on classroom intelligence, we’d love to chat.


By: Abbas Manjee, Chief Academic Officer

P.S. We’re obsessed with designing and implementing technology that enables all students to learn via pedagogy and pacing optimized for them. Are you an administrator seeking to build buy-in to a new initiative to support your teachers? We’d love to learn more about your goals.

The Case for a K-12 School Operating System

The Case for a K-12 School Operating System

Nearly ten years ago, I started my career in education as a math teacher at a new alternative high school serving over-age, under-credited youth in New York City. My students were labeled “at-risk” of dropping out because they were 16–21 years old and previously unsuccessful in high school. Many suffered from chronic absenteeism, caused by factors such as homelessness, family responsibilities, and/or incarceration. If we, the educators, were going to serve our students well, we were going to have to get pedagogically creative.

One of the first curricular tools I built to share — on the first day of school — was a public, student-friendly gradebook on Google Sheets. (Yes, this was before Google Classroom existed!) Students could track their progress and identify which skills needed extra work at any time. Little did I know this experience would eventually propel me to help develop a school operating system that tackles technology issues plaguing educators and supports them with more opportunities to offer individualized instruction.

Creating a Toolbox — and Filling It

After creating the gradebook, my colleague and I developed a curriculum aligned to New York state math standards. We scoped and sequenced the curriculum according to a set of power standards representing scaffolded skills. If students mastered a power standard, they could move on and didn’t need to wait for others. This competency-based system made sense; if students were chronically absent, holding them accountable to a pacing calendar would prove futile.

To supplement in-person support offered during class and lunch periods, I published a simple Google site to house my lessons, assessments, and other resources. If students missed class or needed additional help, they could go to my website and access the day’s lesson as well as videos and digital exercises from YouTube and Khan Academy.

 

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As my students submitted work, I tracked everything in my gradebook. My goal was to minimize the information asymmetry that tends to exist between what teachers know about their students and what students know about their performance. At the time, I had no idea this system was called “standards-based grading.” I was so green at this point in my career that I probably assumed every classroom in the 21st century operated this way. I didn’t realize what we were trying to build was innovative.

The following year, I wanted to ensure that when students did come to class, they could participate and engage — or at the very minimum — access the content via a class set of iPads. I stepped up my game by adding even more videos and assessment exercises to my class website, mining resources from IXL and CK-12. I generated logins for my students and started “blending” instruction using the free content from these publishers. This worked nicely for my students, who felt like I was carefully attending to their learning pace and providing them with targeted learning materials.

By the end of year, more than half of my students passed the Algebra 1 state exam. For context: in years prior, every one of these students had failed this exam at least once. Of those who failed again this time around, many had never come so close to passing and looked forward to retaking it in the summer.

Enter the LMS

I was proud, but also exhausted. The time required to maintain the number of tools I was juggling was eerily close to the time I used to spend working as an investment banker. I dedicated hours every week copy-pasting student achievement data from multiple systems into one gradebook, analyzing each student’s progress and assigning work based on need. The last thing I needed was another system to maintain, but that’s exactly how my third teaching year started: my school administration decided a centralized system for grades was necessary to assess how all classrooms were doing. They bought a learning management system (LMS) and asked us to start using it.

Procuring the LMS was purely an administrative decision, fueled by a desire to monitor school-wide trends to make resource allocation decisions. I couldn’t fault school leadership for this, but I still hated using it. I didn’t want to change the way I’d set up my class because my model working for my students. Now, in addition to importing data from IXL, Khan Academy, and an adaptive learning program called Carnegie Learning, I had to transfer the achievement data from my gradebook into another system. It felt like every tool I used in the classroom was inherently designed to work in isolation.

 

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By the end of that year, my patience had grown thin. I stopped updating the LMS on a regular basis and wondered how long it would take before somebody noticed. My colleagues had mixed feelings about it too. Because the LMS was designed to contain a lot of tools for teachers in a single view, it was clunky and cumbersome to use. For example, it didn’t integrate with Google Apps, which we had spent the last three years using. Nor could I customize features to align with my class set-up, or remove certain features altogether.

Building and Brainstorming

After three more years teaching in alternative high schools, I left the classroom to join Kiddom and address this interoperability problem. In an ideal world, teachers would be able to access a set of tools driven by their classroom needs and aligned to an instructional model of their choice. Administrators would be able to measure and take action from macro-level trends, manage and review curriculum, and enable educators to incorporate the instructional models and technologies that serve their classrooms best.

Unfortunately, teachers are constrained by tools that are ineffective or redundant. Many education technologies are not interoperable. School and district leaders continue to spend an inordinate amount of time piecing together data to understand what’s really happening. When that takes too long or doesn’t work, they resort to classroom observations — because they’re easy to do.

During my time at Kiddom, I’ve had the opportunity to apply my teaching experience and work with a team of designers and developers to tackle these problems head-on. At first, we focused on teachers and learners and the tools needed to enhance a singular classroom experience; this led to a simple, visual standards-aligned gradebook. Next, we connected this gradebook directly to digital content publishers like CK-12 and Khan Academy so that teachers could access teaching resources in order to differentiate instruction efficiently and save time.

Because every classroom experience plays a role in the larger ecosystem within a school, we designed a set of collaboration tools to help teachers work together, share, and learn from each other more effectively. We then focused on the information asymmetry that exists between classrooms and their respective administrative bodies. Working with and listening closely to public school administrators, we brainstormed various ways we could support school systems from the top-down and bottom-up.

A K-12 School Operating System

The result of this work is Kiddom Academy, a K-12 school operating system supporting collaboration and individualized instruction. Using Academy, administrators can identify and act on aggregate achievement trends, manage curriculum and assessment, and efficiently integrate other tools they’ve come to rely on. They can set up frameworks for a range of pedagogies in line with their organizational goals. Classrooms gain access to a comprehensive library of standards-aligned resources and curriculum development tools. Beautiful, actionable reports help students, teachers, parents, and administrators monitor progress and take action.

 

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Kiddom Academy, our K-12 school operating system for schools and districts

 

A K-12 school operating system is the next step in the evolution of education technology. Interoperability matters in schools and districts now more than it has ever before, because we’ve come expect it everywhere else. For example, I can purchase a pair of concert tickets using my EventBrite app, and then export the information directly into my iPhone calendar. So too should teachers be able to use a variety of learning apps in their classroom and expect them to work together seamlessly. As we see more content and pedagogy-specific tools in the market, we can expect increasing numbers of teachers to find and patch together the tools that work best for them; administrators will be no different.

My teaching experience helped me understand that I didn’t need to buy a blended learning or personalized learning product. I had a process and practice in place, and needed a set of interoperable tools. I can’t imagine how much more passion and creative energy I might have offered my students and colleagues if I wasn’t staying up late every night copying and pasting data to differentiate instruction. “Personalized learning” might be trendy, but it isn’t new. Teachers have been trying to enhance and individualize learning using the tools at their disposal for a long time.

That’s why at Kiddom, we’re hell bent on designing and implementing technology that enables all students to learn via pedagogy and pacing optimized for them. We’re betting big on the idea of building a system for other learning apps to run on — rather than in — to help schools plug and play the tools they find most effective. We can’t wait to see how schools will use Kiddom Academy to execute their vision for teaching and learning.

 


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By: Abbas Manjee, Chief Academic Officer

 

P.S. Are you an administrator seeking resources to support your teachers? Book a 1:1 walkthrough with a member of our team.

Originally posted on EdSurge

3 Ways We Personalized Support for Classrooms and Schools

3 Ways We Personalized Support for Classrooms and Schools

Building relationships with administrators and teachers demands thoughtful inquiry, care, and reflection

Education is awash with efforts to personalize learning. But what does it mean for a company to personalize its support for the teachers who use its product? School leader, Jordan Silvestri and Kiddom representative, Melissa Giroux, describe what it takes for an edtech company to deliver the kind of personalized experience to its customers that teachers give to their students.

 

Jordan Silvestri: Our school focuses on preparing our students during their final years of academic involvement to gain and hone the skills that they will need to be successful after they graduate. We started Torah Academy in September 2016 with a strong vision for how and what we want our students to learn. Every class, student interaction, social setting and community learning experience is another opportunity to help our students see their potential and grow.

After our first year of running the school, we realized that one of our major challenges involved how we were tracking students’ progress. We needed a student-centered program that would be easy to function for the teachers and bring all of our work into one place.

 

Melissa Giroux: Our initial planning session with Torah Academy was extremely energizing. We were excited to meet a school leader who had great clarity around his team’s strengths and goals: Jordan wanted his team to become more accustomed to using data to drive daily instruction and he wanted technology to support consistent routines so his students could become independent learners. His concrete goals made us confident we could support his staff’s day-to-day work from afar.

Working together over the course of the year, we — at Torah Academy and Kiddom — together learned three powerful lessons about how to deliver personalized support to educators:

 

1. Lead with Inquiry

When teachers in professional development workshops push back on learning a new tech tool or question if a new platform might mean more work instead of less, it would be easy for a principal to double down on mandates and take a hardline stance.

Empathetic leaders respond with questions: “Can you tell me a little bit more about that?” or “Can you walk me through the steps you currently take?” and most importantly, “How can I help?”

When teachers hear their administration pause to learn a little bit more about them, learning becomes collaborative. Rather than fighting, they work as a team to figure out if the platform can adapt to meet the needs of a range of educators.

Companies, too, need to build that kind of inquiry into every step of their work with educators.

Educators at Torah Academy teach courses that cover everything from Common Core mathematics to Judaic studies, as well as provide services including speech therapy and vocational training. A one-size-fits-all tutorial about edtech product features wasn’t going to cut it with such diverse staff goals.

The first session between teachers and Kiddom invited the educators to express their concerns so that together we could customize the platform to their teaching styles and goals. Teachers learned how to move their existing curriculum from Google Drive into collaborative Kiddom classes. Other workshops, using the Question Formulation Technique, helped teachers frame collective inquiry goals for professional learning communities.

The Right Question Institute frames this process well: “The skill of question asking is far too rarely deliberately taught in school.” We believe that same kind of questioning skill should characterize how teachers interact with edtech companies.

 

2. Walk the Talk

There’s nothing worse than a classroom full of students staring at you as error messages prevent you from moving on with a lesson. As an administrator, I (Jordan) was worried that some of my teachers might have technical difficulties with onboarding to new technology. The “competency test” for real customer service is simply this: Will it deliver when you need it?

One teacher, in particular, had reported that as she was working to set up her class over the weekend, she hit a snag. She struggled to figure out what was going on. Finally, she contacted Kiddom through the app and had a live troubleshooting conversation on a Sunday afternoon. I was floored by both the teacher’s proactive approach — and the fact that the company walked the talk, big time!

Just as important as responding quickly is speaking the language of the people you serve. The company’s support team has grown from a collection of part-time interns into a team of former educators — people who natively speak “teacher talk” — and avoid the kind of tech jargon that can confuse just about anyone.

No school is the same. Investing the time to send a company’s support team to visit schools and observe users in the field means that teacher advocates learn how to ask questions to troubleshoot and to gain context. They are not merely following tech support flow charts and giving standard responses; they’re relying on their knowledge of pedagogy and the challenging realities of everyday teaching to frame their responses.

 

3. Stop and Reflect

School-based staff don’t always have time to step outside of their day-to-day responsibilities and reflect on successes and challenges. But particularly when you start a relationship with a company, educators must ask their partners: How are you measuring success?

As a school for students with special needs, Torah Academy does not use letter or number grades to assess student progress. Teachers focus on helping students master the skills they will need to be productive members of their community. This approach to assessment — with the ultimate goal of having students apply their goals to new environments and interactions — has been core to our program.

During one of our first joint meetings, the company introduced its mastery grading feature to Torah Academy teachers as if it were a new concept. Hardly the case! In response, teachers showed the Kiddom team how that construct fit right in with the school’s methodology, so that teachers could correlate lessons to goals and assess student progress in one fell swoop.

Throughout the year of working together, our joint team relied on routine check-ins to collect feedback, plan targeted professional development and to provide administrators with a sounding board for worries or celebrations.

But by mid-year, it became clear that educators were adopting the platform in very different ways and at different speeds. We consequently scheduled a mid-year professional development day. The Kiddom team spent the day working with individual teachers during their prep periods, to better differentiate and leverage relationships. Each conversation was private, which allowed for candid feedback and questions and supported individual needs. Some teachers desperately wanted more support in analyzing reports; others were still working on building classroom routines using the platform.

Building relationships between teachers and students takes thoughtful inquiry, care and reflection — and the relationship between an edtech company and the teachers who use its products demands the same. When both groups invest the time, authentic learning happens.


Jordan Silvestri, School Leader
Melissa Giroux, School Success Lead

More information about Kiddom Academy for schools and districts:


Originally posted on EdSurge

An EdTech Startup That Actually Gets it

An EdTech Startup That Actually Gets it

I am no stranger to educational technology. As a teacher for ten years, I was an evangelist for using technology in the classroom. I was an early adopter of Google Docs (and eventually Google Apps for Education) as well as an LMS that harnessed the power of online socializing and put it to use by creating a social, 24/7 environment for students to access content and lessons.

I am also very skeptical of most edtech companies: I wanted to utilize tech that helped my students and I knew that not every device, subscription, nor platform was relevant to my teaching style. I loved tech, but it had its time and place in my classroom.

In 2017, I entered the private sector of education and spent most of the year traveling across the United States working with teachers to support the integration of technology in their classrooms. I often came across the same tired, skeptical sentiment about edtech:

It seemed like a chore for teachers to adopt and use new technologies.

In many places, administrators were pushing new technology initiatives to an entire district, while not even being able to turn on a computer or log into accounts themselves and yet wanted every teacher to become experts. There was a completely understandable level of frustration and disillusionment coming from the teachers. Why were they expected to implement something when the people asking them to do it were not capable of also integrating it into their daily routines?

I have a lot of empathy for their plight. I too had been a victim of education’s awkward fascination of using tech for the sake of tech. Regularly, administrators brought the staff together to mandate new tools, whether or not they actually fit into the goals we had for our students. It was exhausting and demoralizing. I still tell stories about the time the teachers in my school were given iPads and told to use them but given no professional development or reason behind it. But hey, at least we could say our teachers all had iPads in their hands, right? (Oh and by the way, a year later, those same iPads were taken away and redistributed to an elementary school in the district because only a small fraction of our teachers were actually using them.)

I’m sure you are thinking: but Sarah, don’t you work for an edtech company? How can you still empathize with all the tech-tired teachers out there when you work for a company that is promoting tech use in classrooms?

The answer is simple: Kiddom believes in empowering teachers so that they can empower their studentsTechnology is meant to be relevant, meaningful, and helpful in the classroom. In keeping with my love of odd numbers, here are 5 reasons why I think Kiddom meets teacher needs.

One: Kiddom is free for individual teachers to use. That’s not going to change for anyone that decides to start using Kiddom in their classroom. That’s an amazing thing for teachers who are so used to testing out technology only to have it turn into a subscription-based, limited platform three weeks later.

Two: Kiddom gives teachers the ability to collaborate with each other more effectively and efficiently. Instead of endless lists of documents and exchanged emails, Kiddom provides teachers with a common place to house shared curriculum documents and lesson plans. It provides them a place to create lasting, meaningful content with each other, even if they aren’t in the same room.

Three: Access to high quality content. It takes a lot of time to curate resources for our students. During that time, we are often searching multiple websites, databases, and textbooks trying to find things that are suitable for our current students AND standards aligned. Kiddom understands that plight and wants to give your time back. We have a content library that is easily searchable based on your specific needs. Heck, it even provides you a one-stop-shop to search some of the most utilized resource subscriptions that you are used to using in your classroom (ex: Khan Academy, Newsela, IXL Math, Flocabulary, etc.)

Four: Google Drive integration. We understand that a lot of teachers have already integrated the G Suite apps into their classroom and are comfortable with using them with their students. With Kiddom, you don’t have to lose what you know — you can easily add assignments straight from your Google Drive account. The added benefit: we take Google and super power it with our awesome student analytics, mastery reports, and ability to assign and customize content to individual students instead of a one size-fits all assignment for the entire class.

But most importantly?

Five: Flexibility. We want you to use Kiddom the way it works for you and your students. If you just want a place to collaborate with your colleagues and share lesson plans together, then use Kiddom to do just that. If you want a more thorough and expansive ecosystem for your classroom or school (or district), we have you covered too. As a matter of fact, this summer we are launching a new pilot program that boasts comprehensive support, training, and resources. If you want to be an early adopter of our comprehensive school wide platform (and be privy to some bonus perks for being a part of our first group of Academy educators), set up a demo with us and we will be more than happy to have a one-on-one conference with you and your team.

This is the most passionate, teacher and student-centric group of human beings that I have come across in the edtech world and that is why joining the team at Kiddom was an absolute no brainer for me.

 

 


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By: Sarah Gantert, Success Specialist

 

Interested in learning more about our tools for teachers? Attend a free demo!

Want to dive right in? Click here to access a demo class!

Targeted Test Prep with Kiddom

Targeted Test Prep with Kiddom

Use Library’s engaging resources to help your students study

With state exams, midterms, and finals around the corner in the United States, many teachers are focusing on preparing their students for the bubble sheets and answer booklets ahead. We’re all too familiar with the standard review packets, full of busy work, but seldom do those prioritize student needs. Where are they at now, and where can they do better?

Personalizing and differentiating review material can be a daunting task, especially if your resources are scattered and/or don’t meet students’ learning styles.

In an ideal world, teachers would be able to pinpoint the exact needs of a student and quickly share materials to meet those skill gaps. With Kiddom, this is a reality: spend less time reinventing the wheel and more time directly supporting student needs.

Know exactly where your students are

Prioritizing learning targets is half the battle, and that’s where we come in. Kiddom’s standard mastery reports allow teachers to efficiently investigate progress already made on specific standards/skills and quickly act on it. View your class’s progress towards a specific standard or skill so far, and plan to remediate.

Need an even closer look? No problem! Click on each standard to view which students need the most attention, and which ones are ready to move on. Kiddom lets you add as many standards to assignments as you want, so you never lose track of the skills associated to your assignments.

All the resources you need, a search away

Kiddom teachers can use our Library to find and assign free resources, including videos, quizzes, practice activities, and more, based on the data from your standard mastery reports. We understand it can be time consuming to select resources, so we’ve made our search options as specific or broad as you would like them to be across grade level, subject area, or media type. Need resources that are standards-aligned? No problem. Kiddom’s Library allows you to search by specific standards, and your mastery reports connect you directly to the appropriate resources.

Find exactly what you need by easily previewing the resource before you assign it. Assignments may already have standards aligned based on the standard group you are using, but you can always add your own.

All of your materials, in one place

Chances are, you’ve collected a lot of materials for the topics you Don’t worry: you’re covered there too. Kiddom’s Playlist functionality allows you to group resources into one contained playlist, so your resources aren’t scattered everywhere. Think of it as Pinterest specifically for your classroom. Since your Playlists are housed in your Planner, you can choose when to assign them, and who to assign them to. Simply click to expand the playlist, and drag and drop the assignment into Timeline to assign to everyone, or click a student beforehand to assign to only them.

Kiddom allows you to create as many playlists as you want, so the possibilities are endless for thematic, skill-based, or topical groupings. Create a playlist dedicated to enrichment resources and another for remediation, or create one based on topic and subject. Whatever organizational method works for you, Kiddom works with you to house all of your resources and ensure your students get exactly what they need. Need to organize multiple resources for students to review for a test? Create a playlist to group them all together, and simply drag and drop it over to a student’s timeline to send it. You can create multiple playlists to address specific needs for students for test prep: use your reports to see where students need help, and create a playlist with content just to address those needs. Your students will appreciate the personalized resources, since now they’re reviewing what they need to review, and not going through things they already know. Students and teachers alike can agree: “busy work” is necessary.

Get Started

Gone are the days of the dreaded review packet, and long waits at the copier. Besides, cookie-cutter packets can be impersonal and can feel unimportant to a student: it’s just busy work and taking away from skills they should be focusing on. We hope you use our Library and Playlists to create engaging assignments, boosting student morale and skills in the process.

What are you waiting for? Explore Kiddom’s Library. And have fun!

https://upscri.be/17b283/


By: Shabbir Manjee, Support Analyst

Don’t have an account? No problem, sign up for free here. Take advantage of Kiddom’s free support resources. Or book a one-on-one demo.

Want to dive right in? Click here to access a demo class!

Using Education Technology to Hold Students, Co-Teachers, and Parents Accountable

Using Education Technology to Hold Students, Co-Teachers, and Parents Accountable

One of the toughest things about working with high school students, especially those on the autism spectrum (as parents and teachers who work with these students will tell you), can be teaching them about accountability. Not just teaching students to take accountability for their own actions, but also helping the adults that work with them model it to support their students. Finding a tool that requires teachers, students, and even parents to accept responsibility can be tricky. This is why I use Kiddom, so I can make everyone accountable without adding any extra work for myself.

 

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Holding Students Accountable

One of the primary goals of my school is to prepare students for independent life. This doesn’t just mean teach them enough to pass tests and get into college. We also work on their social skills, executive functioning skills, strategies to cope when they are struggling emotionally, and much more. In order to grow in any of these areas, students must take accountability for themselves. If they don’t see a problem, how can we expect them to fix it?

 

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Kiddom allows students to be in the driver’s seat with their schoolwork. Not only do they have access to all assignments electronically (no more “my dog ate my homework excuses” accepted in my tech-friendly classroom) but they have the opportunity to take the initiative and ask for help, even when I am not standing in front of them. From day one, the expectation for my students has been that if they are struggling with a homework assignment, they are to try their hardest and let me know ahead of time if they were unable to complete it, otherwise they were not going to get credit. Kiddom allows them to stick to that expectation and take accountability over their learning.

Keeping Teachers Accountable

Practice what you preach — we’ve all heard the saying, but it’s not so easy to do. If our goal is to get our students to take accountability for their work, teachers must do the same. In the same way you add students to Kiddom, your class codes can be shared with other adults at the school too. In this way, teachers are responsible for responding to and have easy access to student data and work.

Each teacher at my school has a learning specialist that partners with us to make sure that what we choose to teach and how we choose to teach it is the best fit for our population of students with ASD. I have seen teachers who don’t quite “get” some of our students and therefore have trouble meeting their needs. Again, this is where Kiddom holds adults accountable andsupports their professional development. I can share my class codes for Kiddom with my learning specialist, and they can see exactly what assignments I am giving to my students. I am held accountable for assigning appropriate work for my students, as well as differentiating assignments for students who need it. This way, when we meet as a group of teachers each Monday, my learning specialist already knows what is going on and can give me feedback along the way before it’s too late and a student falls through the cracks. Teachers can also share classes to really make sure we know what every student is working on in each class. This way, I can help them with their math homework at night, even though I am not their math teacher, because I can see exactly what work they have been assigned. I also see when they get assigned extra work in their humanities class, so I may assign them less work in science so as not to overwhelm them in one day. Kiddom allows us to truly share our work with our supervisors and fellow teachers on an ongoing basis so hopefully no more students fall through the cracks.

Keeping Parents Accountable

I work at a boarding school, so I have the additional responsibility of acting as proxy parent, seeing my students at night, and checking in to ask them if they have done their homework. This year, I have a day student as well, so I have to rely on the parents to push their daughter to complete her work. Kiddom really helps me with this as well.

 

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At the start of this school year, my day student got very behind quickly, and her father said that he had no idea what homework she was supposed to be doing, and that she had just told him she had finished it already. We quickly learned that we had to work especially hard on getting this student to take accountability for herself. We were able to explain to him how Kiddom works, that he could easily see assignments that she had, ones that were late and if they had been handed in or not. He was able to take some steps to support her and ensure that she really was doing her work and staying up to date.

For students who are still struggling to be self-advocates, their parents can double check the work that needs to be done via their student’s account, as well as call their child out when they say they’re done. This also puts an extra piece of accountability onto the student, with one more adult pushing them to do what they need to do on their own.

Accountability is a huge piece of the very complicated student puzzle. It can be the turning point for a student who is struggling in all aspects of school to start to see growth in herself and therefore keep working and pushing. If our students can see the adults in their lives being held accountable and accepting that, we will see so much more in our students than we may have thought.

P.S. Want to dive right in? Click here to access a demo class!

 

 

 

Written By: Sara Giroux

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