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“Re-Design Labs” offered to help educators prepare for school this fall

It’s summer break, and school administrators and teachers are sighing with relief after working through several stress-filled months of pandemic-imposed distance learning. With the daily grind of virtual lessons behind them, educators can relax – but only briefly. Soon they must start planning for the 2020-2021 school year and how it might play out, given the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions. Helping with that planning is the aim of the free Re-Start Re-Design Labs, presented by EnvisionEdPlus in partnership with the Ohio STEM Learning Network. Three one-day virtual sessions will be offered in June to help teachers and administrators prepare for the new normal inside their re-opened buildings. Sessions are scheduled for June 11, June 16, and June 26. Waitlist spots remain for all three sessions.

To find out more about the Re-Start Re-Design Labs, we contacted Craig Lautenschleger, vice president of EnvisionEdPlus:

Q: Tell us about EnvisionEdPlus and its services.

Craig LautenschlegerA: EnvisionEdPlus specializes in helping youth-serving organizations re-envision education and/or core organizational services by designing innovative initiatives, supporting successful implementation and securing resources to achieve and sustain desired outcomes for youth.

EnvisionEdPlus clients have successfully implemented programs in college and career readiness; work-based learning; STEM/STEAM; innovative educational practices; equity, opportunity and inclusive practices; cultural competency; early childhood; and exceptional children. Many of these have been supported by state, federal or philanthropic grant awards. Notably, EnvisionEdPlus clients have won more than $203 million for their initiatives.

EnvisionEdPlus is a small and nimble organization. Three core staff members are adept at project management, communication, facilitation, partnership development, proposal writing, technical assistance and training. Their expertise and capacity are enhanced as needed by a dozen partner consultants. That means project teams are customized precisely according to clients’ needs and the demands of individual opportunities, maximizing potential while minimizing costs.

EnvisionEdPlus partner consultants specialize in education topics such as research and evaluation, policy and regulations, trauma-impacted youth, STEM school leadership, nonprofit board development and strategic planning, to name a few. Collectively, teams have successfully supported practitioners in nearly every educational setting: urban, suburban and rural districts; community schools; career technical centers; institutions of higher education; out-of-school programs in schools, churches, nonprofits and for-profit companies; and educational service centers.

Though clients, settings and initiatives vary widely, 100 percent of the organizations we support will forward our core mission as described within the EnvisionEdPlus Four Tenets for Re-Envisioning Education:

  • Every child will learn to think and innovate: Educators must do more than teach; they must facilitate engaging learning experiences that move students beyond standards mastery to demonstrate they can transfer learning across disciplines and into their lives.
  • Every child will have access to a comprehensive system of learning supports personalized to meet their needs (social, emotional, health/wellness, academic and family): Education, social service and community organizations must coordinate services to offer the depth and breadth of support needed for every child to thrive. These services must include social, emotional, academic and health and wellness supports for children and their families.
  • Educational systems will optimize learning opportunities for all children: All organizational systems (instructional, human resource, financial, etc.) must be flexibly designed and nimble, allowing for ongoing adaptations to meet the changing needs of children, the greater learning community and technological advancements.
  • PreK-16 Education, industry and community systems will forge mutually beneficial partnerships that forward each other’s mission so all organizations thrive in this changing world: This strength-based approach promotes the long-term sustainability of systems and partnerships that achieve outcomes for youth.

Q: How and why did you become involved in the Re-Start Re-Design Labs?

A: We created the concept for the Re-Start Re-Design labs in anticipation of the needs school districts will have as they plan for the restart of school in the fall. We believe that COVID-19 has set the stage for educators to critically rethink and redesign the student learning experience.

Q: How will the labs work and who could benefit by participating?

A: During each of the three Design Labs (June 11, June 16, June 26) from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., participants will engage in a Zoom virtual session that will consist of large group idea sharing, team time using Zoom’s breakout rooms and time for facilitated feedback. Scheduled breaks and time for lunch will occur.

School district teams composed of district administration, building-level administration, teachers and related-services personnel will benefit from registering to attend.

Q: What will the sessions cover?

A: During our ReStart ReDesign Labs, teams will use the collective knowledge of participants and partners to significantly increase their access to innovative strategies that support the restart of school for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Each session will begin with a reflection on what happened this past spring as participants are asked to think about the strengths and challenges they experienced with students. This will help us lead to an understanding of our new reality. Participants will then identify key systems that might work to address local needs as they develop plans for their new reality. Each Design Lab will end with iterative design and team planning time.

Q: Through your research, what are the most effective strategies for distance learning you have found?

A: I talked with several teachers from throughout the state of Ohio in mid-May. Multiple strategies emerged from our discussions. One teacher talked about daily math lessons filmed and uploaded to YouTube and then viewed by students. A few teachers talked about daily virtual read-alouds. Another teacher talked about a virtual writing lesson presented to the whole class for 20 minutes and then a series of subsequent 25-minute small-group lessons for two to three students at a time.

We continue to learn about the many effective strategies that teachers used with students during remote learning this past spring, and we’re still learning!

We are holding a free Remote Learning Sharing Session on Friday, June 12, from 9 to 10 a.m. This is open to any teacher who taught this past spring to share and learn about remote learning strategies. Click HERE to register if you are interested in attending this sharing session.

What I found as a common thread among many of the teachers whom I talked with was the importance of creating a sense of community remotely.

Q: What are the main aspects of traditional schooling that must change in the post-pandemic world?

A: COVID-19 has placed a critical and reflective focus on how we define school and learning. Some of our foundational beliefs and understandings about how schools operate will be challenged post-pandemic. We view this time period as an opportunity for educators to critically rethink and redesign how and where learning occurs.

Schools that embrace flexibility in designing learning opportunities, whether in-person, remote or combinations thereof, will help to ensure that all students thrive in a post-pandemic world.

Q: How can educators find out more about the labs?

A: Educators can visit us at https://envisionedplus.com/ to learn more about the agenda and outcomes of our Re-Start Re-Design Labs. Currently, all three of the Re-Start Re-Design Labs are at full capacity. Should a team still want to register, members will be placed on a waitlist. If space becomes available, we will contact teams on the waitlist.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share about the labs?

A: The Re-Start Re-Design Labs are also an opportunity for teams to share and learn from one another. We are so pleased to present the Re-Start Re-Design Labs in partnership with the Ohio STEM Learning Network!

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