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All schools are, or should be, planning for what to do for all students when schools re-open, presumably (and hopefully) in the Fall, for the 20-21 school year. My schools are planning, and I believe that all schools should be planning, for supports that all students will need and the supports that the most vulnerable students will need.

Re-connecting socially for all

Learning is social and classrooms and schools are incredibly social places. The norms for socialization within a classroom and school become second nature because of the intentional work of educators and because social norms are practiced and re-practiced hundreds of times a day. At least they are in normal times…

The need for schools to hit the ground running with smooth interactions between students and between students and staff is great, given the academic work that also needs to be done. We all need to have plans to remind and reinforce positive social connections.

Re-establishing cultures, mindsets, and expectations for all

In addition to reinforcing social norms, we will need to re-establish emotionally physically, and intellectually safe learning environments and the positive cultures and mindsets that schools have worked so hard to successfully establish. Parents and teachers have worked so hard to retain normalcy in these distance learning times, but learning by oneself and in pajamas is not the same as working together, both in and out of classrooms, in schools. 

The most vulnerable will be even more vulnerable…

  • We must be ready to meet student needs before the first day of school. Therefore, we must analyze data of student needs that we have generated during this current school year and pre-assess needs during the beginning of the year. We cannot and need not gather data on all standards. Let’s focus on the essentials.
  • We must be ready with instructional plans that address potential needs. Therefore, we must create and curate materials and strategies that adults can use to catch students up, designing instructional/remediation plans tied to those standards, skills, and dispositions for which we gather data. Again, we cannot and need not gather data on all standards. Let’s focus on the essentials.
  • We must plan to utilize the precious number of school days we have to address the needs that we can realistically predict in this situation. We must plan the entire year with the beginning-of-the-year remediation needs in mind. We can predict that more days at the beginning of the year will be needed to reteach and reconnect and that we will likely need more days throughout the year (buffer days within and between units) to reteach and enrich. Learning essentials is more important than attempting to cover all standards; mastery is more important than coverage. Let’s prepare calendars in advance that provide time for meeting student needs and re-prioritize, re-scope, and re-sequence standards throughout the year.
  • We must plan to provided ongoing Tier 2 and 3 supports throughout the year. Of course, we have always done this, but it’s possible that students with vulnerabilities will need our timely, targeted, and intensive supports more than ever. Let’s ensure that our RTI/MTSS plans, for both academic and behavioral needs, ensure proactive and impactful supports for students.

In subsequent weeks, we will expand on each of these topics. And in subsequent weeks, we will further describe a solution for helping schools in these areas:

  • Generating, accessing, and aggregating data, both academic and behavioral, into immediately usable forms will be vital – Mr. Elmer’s Intervention Compass can help.
  • Facilitating collaboration between the adults on campus as they strive to serve students will be vital – Mr. Elmer’s Intervention Compass can help.
  • Monitoring student progress and documenting student’s learning journeys, both academically and behaviorally, will be vital – Mr. Elmer’s Intervention Compass can help.


In these unprecedented times, our students need our best and we need the best tools to serve them. Mr. Elmer’s Intervention Compass is unlike anything you’ve ever seen.

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