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Popular on Twitter: Diversity, Rural Schools, and SEL

Here’s what your PLN was most interested in on social media in the past month.
Communicator
February 2019, Volume 42, Issue 6

Here’s what your PLN was most interested in on social media in the past month. These top topics looked at the benefits of a diverse faculty in schools, rural schools networking with neighboring districts, and the teacher’s impact on students’ social-emotional learning (SEL).

Why We Need a Diverse Teaching Workforce

Authors Dan Goldhaber, Roddy Theobald, and Christopher Tien look into a question that’s common in schools these day: Why do we need a diverse teacher workforce? And it turns out, there are a lot of reasons.

The article dives into statistics that show how much of a positive impact teachers of color have on students. For example, authors point to this statistic: For a low-income black male student in grades 3 through 5, being taught by at least one black teacher reduces the probability of dropping out by 39%. That’s huge. There are so many more positive statistics the article points to that support the need to have diversity among the teacher workforce in the U.S.

Despite these statistics, it’s not that easy to fix the problem. With teacher retention issues nationwide, it’s becoming harder and harder for schools to retain teachers of color, despite the need for it.

Focusing on Rural Schools

In “New Research Centers to Focus on Rural Schools, High School Writing,” author Linda Jacobson looks at the challenges rural schools face and how the Institute for Education Sciences, the National Center for Rural School Mental Health, and the National Center for Rural Education Research Networks are working to solve them.

In particular, research is showing that there’s strength in numbers. “Many rural districts—and school leaders in rural areas—are finding that they can accomplish more by partnering with neighboring districts and participating in networks in which they share curriculum resources, professional development and other areas of expertise,” says Jacobson.

Considering nearly 10 million students in the U.S. attend rural schools, more can be done to help them succeed, says Jacobson. These new centers are just the beginning.

A Teacher’s Impact on SEL

Teachers aren’t just in schools to teach content; they now teach a range of noncognitive SEL skills like self-regulation, says author Youki Terada in “Understanding a Teacher’s Long-Term Impact.”

Terada references a 2015 student that found that focusing on SEL skills resulted in better outcomes in students’ health, education, and employment. The study also showed a decreased likelihood that these students would get in trouble with the law as children and as adults.

The takeaway, says Terada: “Measuring the full value of a teacher goes well beyond their impact on test scores. Teachers who improve students’ noncognitive skills also improve long-term outcomes that include their odds of graduating from high school.”

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