Alert Solutions Blog

Old VS. New: Why K-12 Teachers Should Embrace EdTech

Posted by Nina Caliri on Thu, May 23, 2019 @ 10:05 AM

As technology continues to evolve and develop, it’s steadily taking over the K-12 education space. Although new edtech is designed to help and assist teachers with tasks in and out of the classroom, some teachers are still on the fence.  Why is there so much resistance among teachers when it comes to new educational technology, or edtech?

EdTech - Education Technology

The Ed Advocate says there are many anti-tech teachers due to the power of tradition. A teacher-centered approach in which K-12 teachers are sharing their wisdom with their students and classrooms, engaging the class, and motivating them to be the best they can is the more traditional way to teach.  Now education is changing to more of a student-centered approach instead. The Ed Advocate explains, “In the student-centered approach to education, the teacher serves as a guide who facilitates the learning process, instead of seeking to control it.” Teachers can utilize edtech to help facilitate the student-centered approach to teaching.

Another key reason teachers haven’t completely embraced edtech is because of the lack of training on the different technologies that could help them. Older generations of teachers simply did not have access to the newer edtech that is out there, and even the younger generations are not fully trained on how edtech can help them in the classroom.

Edtech …Out With the Old, In With the New

  • Traditional Attendance Calls vs. Automated Attendance Alerts
    Chronic absenteeism and truancy are plaguing K-12 schools and districts across the country. Each day school administrators are calling parents to report their children are absent, taking up valuable time that could easily be used on other administrative tasks. Introducing Automated Attendance Alert edtech! With automated attendance alerts educators don’t have to worry about calling home as the alert is sent automatically to parents or guardians using their preferred communication method through a school notification platform. This is more efficient than manually calling parents, allows for accurate attendance reporting, and saves staff hours of time.

  • Parent-Teacher Meetings vs. Video Conferences & Calls
    Nowadays there are a high number of working parents who may not be able to attend parent-teacher meetings due to busy schedules, travels, and meetings. By using digital tools such as Skype or Google Hangout teachers can set up video conferences to ensure good parental involvement and parent engagement without parents without having to rearrange their work schedule.

  • Sending Home Paper Information vs. Digitally Sending Information
    Sending students home with field trip approval slips and announcements is not always the most efficient way to get information into the hands of a parent or guardian. Edtech school notification platforms are a great way to communicate important information with parents and ensure they receive it. Our school notification platform, SwiftK12, allows teachers to communicate more effectively with parents and improve parent engagement and response. With secure document delivery, teachers can also automatically email report cards, progress reports, transcripts, and more to student families. This again ensures delivery with real-time reporting, reduces risk of message interception by students, and also reduces paper, ink, and mailing costs.

  • Snow Days vs. Digital Learning Days
    For those living in areas in the U.S. with harsh winters, snow days can take a toll on learning opportunities for students. Even though students may not complain about multiple snow days, edtech is making it possible for some K-12 schools and districts to host ‘digital learning days’ in replacement of the traditional snow day. Anderson School District 5 in South Carolina was selected to be a part of an eLearning pilot program. This program allows students to access their assignments at home via Google Classroom with Chromebook devices. “At the end of the day, it makes common sense and financial sense to implement this program,” Superintendent Tom Wilson said in a news release. “No longer will we need to run buses mid-June for a makeup day that only a quarter of our students attend.”

  • Reporting Bullying Incidents In-Person vs. Anonymous Tip Lines
    Bullying is a problem every K-12 school wants to eliminate in all classrooms. It’s difficult for teachers to intervene with every single bullying incident that occurs inside and outside their classrooms, and with the growth of cyberbullying it becomes more and more problematic. Utilizing an edtech solution like an anonymous bullying tip line can help! Our Speak Up! Anti-Bullying Management platform was designed for schools to help them dramatically reduce school bullying and cyberbullying incidents by allowing students to make reports anonymously.

As technology continues to evolve, Alert Solutions does too. By implementing edtech in your classroom, you could save valuable time, increase parent engagement, and reduce bullying incidents, all while promoting your student-centered teaching approach. There is a lot more educational technology out there. So, teachers… it’s time to embrace edtech!

If you’re interested in any of the edtech tools Alert Solutions has to offer we’d be happy to assist. Please contact us today!

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Topics: bullying, cyberbullying, attendance, school announcement, educational technology, power announcement, powerschool, parent engagement, parent communication, technology trends

LGBTQ Bullying: Startling Statistics Prove It Must Be Addressed in K-12 Schools

Posted by Tara Gibson on Mon, May 20, 2019 @ 09:05 AM

It’s no secret: high school is no walk in the park. With the ever-changing student challenges, online social media pressures and educational standards, on top of going through puberty, young adults don’t have it easy. Teenagers who identify as LGBTQ unfortunately can have it much worse. 

Startling LGBTQ Bullying Statistics

Mental Health America and the Human Rights Campaign report the following:

LGBTQ Bullying

  • Only 37% of LGBTQ youth report being happy, whereas 67% of non-LGBTQ youth report being happy.
  • 80% of LGBTQ youth believe they will be happy eventually and things will get better, with nearly half believing they’ll need to move away from their current town to find happiness.
  • Gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth are 4 times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual counterparts
  • LGBTQ youth identify bullying as the second most important problem in their lives after non-accepting families
  • LGBTQ youth who reported they’re frequently harassed in school had a lower GPA than students who were less often harassed
  • One survey revealed that more than one-third of gay respondents had missed an entire day of school in the past month because they felt unsafe there.
  • 60% of LGBTQ students did not report incidents to school staff. One third of those who did report an incident said staff did nothing in response.

The above are just some of the startling statistics that affect both LQBTQ teen’s mental health and their educational success.

The Tragic Loss of Nigel Shelby & Others

Nigel Shelby was just 15 years old when he took his own life this year due to extreme anti-LGBTQ bullying at his school. Nigel’s mother, Camika Shelby, described Nigel as “outgoing” and “always full of joy, full of light, he was always singing, always dancing.” She also said “I don’t want him to be remembered as a kid who was bullied for being gay and who took his own life. He was so much more than that. He was sunshine. He was just a great spirit to have around and it just breaks my heart because I feel like he had so much more love to give."

Nigel is not the only young LGBTQ teen to commit suicide. Unfortunately suicide is the second leading cause of death for U.S. teenagers, with the young LGBTQ community being at great risk due to bullying, social stigmas, family rejection, harassment, and abuse. The Human Rights Campaign tells us “Addressing these startling statistics starts with schools and communities alike working to foster safe and inclusive spaces for LGBTQ young people.” So, how can your school help young, at-risk, LQBTQ teens?

4 Ways Your K-12 School Can Address LGBTQ Bullying

There are several ways you can both address LGBTQ bullying instances, and also create a warm and safe environment for all students in your K-12 school.

  1. Get Your Staff on Board
    Having a group of supportive and understanding educators and/or school administrators gives LGBTQ students people they can go to. Students should feel comfortable coming forward to talk about bullying instances and see you as an ally. We recommend brushing up on LGBTQ terms and creating an inclusive learning environment, which we have outlined in a recent blog post.

  2. Create a Gay-Straight Alliance School Club
    Creating a GSA school club creates a safe space for LGBTQ students, and a supportive network of their student and faculty peers. Mental Health America says, “Students who attended schools with GSAs reported fewer homophobic remarks, more intervention from school personnel and a greater sense of connectedness.”

  3. Develop Strict Anti-Bullying Rules
    We encourage implementing strict anti-bullying rules for all students, and making sure staff carry out required discipline for those who break bullying rules. According to Mental Health America, “Students reported that school staff intervened twice as often in schools with comprehensive bullying/harassment policies.”

  4. Implement Anonymous Anti-Bullying Platform
    Some students feel safer when they’re able to report bullying and cyberbullying incidents anonymously. Putting a system in place that allows for anonymity, such as our Speak Up! Anti-Bullying Platform, your K-12 school could drastically reduce bullying. Here’s how it works:
    • Your school receives a unique local phone number
    • Students, parents and staff can leave voice or text messages anonymously
    • A designated school administrator is notified of new messages and can respond instantly
    • Messages are archived indefinitely for easy access and online reporting

Interested in Speak Up? Download our brochure today!

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Topics: student health, bullying, cyberbullying, school announcement, power announcement, powerschool, education, school climate

Are Active Shooter Drills Going Too Far? 8 Active Shooter Drill Best Practices

Posted by Philip Young on Thu, May 16, 2019 @ 08:05 AM

There have a been a shocking number of active shooter incidents across the United States over the last few years, resulting in mass injuries and deaths, many in K-12 schools. It’s heartbreaking to turn on your television or radio to hear of another horrifying incident and young lives lost. School safety and security measures are constantly adapting and growing around the premise of active shooters on a campus. It’s extremely important to continue to perfect an emergency response plan by running active shooter drills, testing your emergency alert system, and educating students and staff on what to do in the case of an active shooter. But how far is too far?

School Security Guard

In Indiana a few teachers came forward to report they were left with welts, bruises, and abrasions after an active shooter drill back in January 2019. They anonymously told IndyStar that for the training teachers were asked by law enforcement “to kneel down against a classroom wall, before being shot across their backs with airsoft guns.” Although all active shooter drills are to educate and inform students and faculty of what to do in an emergency situation involving a shooter, being shot at close range for practice seems to push the limits of some educators. One teacher said, “They told us, ‘This is what happens if you just cower and do nothing.’ They shot all of us across our backs. I was hit four times. It hurt so bad”.

8 Active Shooter Drill Best Practices

Alice Training Institute released a list of best practices for active shooter drills in collaboration with NASP (National Association of School Psychologists) and NASRO (National Association of School Resource Officers). 

  1. Create a School Safety Team
    Alice Training Institute recommends each K-12 school should create school safety teams made up of an administrator; school mental health professional; school nurse; teachers; security personnel; parents; and students. There should be somebody on this safety team that takes charge in coordinating all school safety efforts, including school safety drills. The leader should also be clear in communicating responsibilities to those on the school safety teams, and identify appropriate emergency preparedness activities for the school.

  2. Conduct an Assessment of the School Community
    It’s important for the school safety teams to identify the types of crises that may occur, and what the current school culture and climate is like. For example, this would include determining if there are high rates of bullying incidents in your K-12 school. Assessing the policies in place for active shooter drills and considering if there should be any additional policies added is also key.
  1. Implement a Cost-Benefit Analysis
    Your school’s cost-benefit analysis should consider financial costs in relation to the likelihood of a particular crisis, and the current knowledge and identified needs of staff & faculty. The cost-benefit analysis should also identify resources, activities, or preparedness trainings that must be replaced or postponed to engage in an active shooter drill.

  2. Tailor Active Shooter Drills to the Context of the School Environment
    Your active shooter drills should take into consideration the following - the primary goal of the drill; the age of students, cognitive and developmental levels of awareness of students; students with physical, sensory, or other disabilities who may require unique instructions; the trust and comfort among staff; optimal timing of the active shooter drill; relationships with law enforcement; and lastly the layout of the school.

  3. Create a Plan of Progression
    Your K-12 school should have a plan of progression that identifies specific goals and objectives for the active shooter drill as well as a timeline and metrics to help determine how the drills are performing, and whether more complex exercises are needed.

  4. Prepare for Logistics of the Active Shooter Drill
    It’s important to keep in mind several factors when running active shooter drills such as students or staff who have experienced previous traumatic events. These individuals may want to be excused during a drill, but must have parental consent to do so. Alice Training Institute also recommends having school mental health professionals available to help.

  5. Develop a Communications Plan
    Having an effective communications plan is important before, during, and after an active shooter drill. It’s important to keep parents, guardians, and the school community informed of when drills are planned. This is easy to do with your school notification platform.

  6. Establish a Long-Term Follow Up Plan
    Schools should establish a long-term follow up plan to support sustainability that considers the following – what additional training is required; how the drill integrates with other school safety efforts; how current and previous training and knowledge can be maintained; and when/ how often a follow-up should be conducted.

For more in depth steps for conducting an active shooter drill at your K-12 school, please see the Alice Training Institute ‘Best Practice Considerations for Schools in Active Shooter and Other Armed Assailant Drills’ report.

One of the important points in active shooter drill best practices includes having a communication plan. At Alert Solutions we help many K-12 schools with their emergency response efforts by providing an award-winning school notification system, SwiftK12.  

SwiftK12 enables administrators to reliably reach hundreds or even thousands of student families within minutes. In the case of an active shooter situation, seconds count.

Interested in learning more? Download our brochure today.

SwiftK12 Brochure Download

Topics: student health, school announcement, school safety, power announcement, powerschool, education, parent communication

Teacher Strikes: The Impact on Students & K-12 School Security

Posted by Nina Caliri on Tue, May 14, 2019 @ 10:05 AM

In early 2019, the United States saw multiple large-scale teacher strikes in California, Colorado, West Virginia, and more. With large groups of teachers picketing outside K-12 schools, many students were either not showing up to learn, or were simply watched in auditoriums and gymnasiums within school grounds.

Teacher Strikes: The Impact on Students & K-12 School Security

Although teachers across the country were striking for the future of public education, there were some negative impacts on school security and student’s learning opportunities. When there are no teachers, there is no teaching.

Teacher Strike

EdWeek published an article showing how principals handled the teacher strikes, and one of the key takeaways was closing schools if possible, during a teacher strike. During the strike in LA, some “encountered expletives from picketing teachers while trying to enter the building.” Denver kept their schools open during their own teachers strike and videos surfaced showing “students dancing in the hallways and students painting a chaotic scene…”. The small percentage of students attending school during a teacher strike has little to no supervision, as staff are spread so thinly. This could lead to potential hazards and dangers to both school security and student safety. For example, limited staff means there is less supervision of students in the hallways and lunchrooms, which is when bullying or fighting incidents could occur.  One principal stated, “I believe that we should close schools, if it's not a safe and secure environment.".

Students may enjoy not having to finish homework assignments and study for tests and quizzes, but teacher strikes do have a negative effect on more than just learning. LA School Report explains every day students are not in the classroom they’re losing valuable learning opportunities. “Students lose daily social interactions with their peers, which helps build character and good citizenship.” If parents are not able to provide childcare during teacher strikes they’re either losing out on their earnings from work, or are leaving their children unsupervised. Students who rely on school breakfasts and lunches could also have their nutrition compromised. The fallout of not having the structured school week can have detrimental effects on everybody in the school community.

Teacher Strikes: Why Did Teachers Go On Strike?

In Los Angeles, California, more than 30,000 public school teachers went on strike, affecting 500,000 students in 900 schools. As this district is the second largest district in the country, this teacher strike had a large impact on both student success and school security.

The New York Times explains, “The decision to walk off the job came after months of negotiations between the teachers’ union, United Teachers Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles Unified School District. Although educators on all sides agree California should spend more money on education, the union and the district (were) locked in a bitter feud about how Los Angeles should use the money it already gets.”

For the many school teachers who participated in the LA teacher strike, their reasoning behind the strike was not just about labor issues, but for the future of public education in the area. Michael Schepps, who teaches 7th grade world history, said, “I have 41 students, and in two of my classes it prevents me from doing things I want to do, such as group work. I used to do plays in my classroom, with costumes, and because of the numbers, I can no longer do that.” The overflowing classrooms made it difficult to foster positive learning environments for students, leading to disciplinary problems and an impact on student academic success. According to Morningside Center, California has the highest student-teacher ratio of 24 students per teacher. This compares to “a ratio of 12 to 1 in states like New Jersey, North Dakota, and Vermont.”  Another teacher in the area explained, “"It's not about salary. It's about having a nurse every day in our school. Currently we have a nurse for two days a week, and students get sick every day or get hurt every day.”

After an overwhelming amount of support for a contract agreement between the school district in LA and the union, the teacher strike in Los Angeles ended after 9 days.

School security is extremely important to us here at Alert Solutions. Our reliable and efficient school notification platform, SwiftK12, is used to send out alerts and messages to keep students safe and parents informed. Interested in learning more? Download our brochure today!

SwiftK12 Brochure Download

 

Topics: school announcement, school safety, power announcement, powerschool, education

Hurricane Preparedness Week: Is Your K-12 School Ready?

Posted by Tara Gibson on Thu, May 09, 2019 @ 09:05 AM

This week is National Hurricane Preparedness Week and the 2019 hurricane season is nearly upon us. According to initial hurricane predictions from the Weather Company, this season is expected to be above average “with a total of 14 named storms predicted, seven of which are expected to be hurricanes.” Hurricanes are one of the most powerful and destructive natural disasters, forming over the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico throughout hurricane season, which spans from June through November every year.

School Closed Hurricane Preparedness

Last year Hurricane Michael, a Category 5 hurricane, hit Florida hard in early October. Many K-12 schools and districts were either forced to close down, or were so severely damaged that many couldn’t return to those schools for the remainder of the school year.

The destruction caused many problems for teachers and students. Teachers weren’t sure on how much homework to give students, as many did not have internet access. Dress codes had to be completely dropped, as many families lost all of their belongings including school uniforms. According to the Orlando Sentinel, “A little more than 29,000 students across the district were enrolled in schools on the last day of classes before Hurricane Michael hit the Panhandle... Enrollment had dropped by more than 2,600 students, almost 9 percent, districtwide by the Friday before Thanksgiving.” A huge drop due to students either moving away or dropping out of school all together.

K-12 schools must prepare both their faculty and their students before a hurricane or any other severe weather event.

Hurricane Preparedness: Before a Storm

  • Educate Students & Staff
    It’s extremely important to educate both students and staff on the potential threat of a hurricane or other severe weather event. Hurricane preparedness is understanding what could happen in the event of a hurricane and how your school can prepare for the worst.

  • Develop a Plan
    Your K-12 school should have an action plan in place specifically for each natural disaster threat, including a hurricane. Although your school may be closed before a hurricane hits, there are still plans that should be put in place including evacuations, announcements, drills and more.

  • Examine School Layout
    Weather.gov recommends examining the layout of your school to determine potential shelter areas. In the case of a hurricane there are fast winds which could cause structural damage. Getting students to a safe area within school grounds is imperative to their safety. Weather.gov provides the following suggestions for safe spots within your school:
    • Interior, small rooms usually offer the best protection.
    • Offices or bathrooms are usually favored locations.
    • Interior hallways are usually another good option, but avoid getting too close to outside door openings.
    • Avoid exterior class rooms or rooms with many windows.
    • Avoid large span ceiling rooms like gymnasiums, auditoriums, and cafeterias.
    • Avoid portable classrooms.

  • Implement a Reliable School Notification Platform
    Keeping everybody updated with open communication is key in the event of a hurricane or any other severe weather event. It’s important to make sure your school notification platform is reliable so school administrators can send alerts to parents, students and staff across multiple channels such as text, email, phone call, and social media, quickly and easily. Our notification system, SwiftK12, is backed by a fully redundant network. SwiftK12 helps K-12 schools reliably reach hundreds or even thousands of student families within minutes. When time is of the essence, it’s comforting to have a trustworthy system to help. 

  • Practice, Practice, Practice!
    Once in place it is essential to practice running through your plan to determine if everything would run smoothly in the event of a hurricane. This includes working with students to go through drills, testing your school wide alert system, and making sure any kinks are worked out. gov states “A practice will not only help confirm the validity of your plan and illustrate any deficiencies to be addressed, but can educate your students and staff on proper responses during severe weather.”

Hurricane preparedness should not be taken lightly, especially in K-12 schools and districts. Schools are responsible for staff and student safety, which is why having a plan, determining safe spaces, implementing reliable technology, and practicing your plan is extremely important.

At Alert Solutions we offer a reliable and efficient school notification platform, SwiftK12, which is used across the country and internationally to send out alerts and messages to keep students, staff, and parents safe and informed.

Interested in learning more? Download our brochure today!

SwiftK12 Brochure Download

Topics: student health, school announcement, school safety, power announcement, powerschool, education, parent communication

The Importance of Teacher-Student Relationships in K-12 Schools

Posted by Philip Young on Mon, May 06, 2019 @ 10:05 AM

Positive Teacher Student RelationshipTeachers who make an effort to foster positive and influential relationships with students make a huge impact on children going through school. Not only are they making students comfortable in their learning environment, studies show supportive teacher-student relationships lead to higher levels of achievement than those students with conflict in their relationships.

If you think back to when you were a student yourself, did you make an effort academically when you loved your teacher? Teachers who treat their students how they want to be treated become ‘popular’ to students, which leads to mutual respect. Keeping the line between student and teacher, but also showing students you’re making a concerted effort, will gain their trust and friendship.

5 Tips to Better Your Teacher-Student Relationship

  1. Get to Know Your Students
    The first thing a teacher should do when building a positive teacher-student relationship is getting to know his or her students. Find out their interests, whether it is a favorite sport, TV show, or school activity. NEA recommends talking to students and listening to what's on their mind: “…they will begin to see that you're not just another adult, but someone who is genuinely interested in them.” It is suggested that you do not have any ‘favorites’, but making an extra effort to build a better teacher-student relationship with children who may be a disciplinary problem doesn’t hurt. This can be done by giving compliments such as, “You did a nice job in class today by raising your hand instead of blurting out when you had ideas to share. Your cooperation in class made it easier for me to teach today. Thanks.”

  2. Protect Your Student’s Self-Esteem
    Adolescents and young adults are fairly vulnerable when in school. Their priority is their social standing and relationships with their peers, which tends to cause students to pull away from adults. For this reason, it’s important to protect your teacher-student relationship by managing discipline in your classroom without an audience. NEA tells us, “Being criticized by a teacher in front of their peers humiliates them. To avoid “losing face”, students may react by talking back, smirking, or walking out of class. They will do whatever it takes to preserve their dignity.” Although it is easier said than done, reacting to student outbursts should be quiet and quick with no sarcasm or condescending comments. If you can react to a problem in a light manner or even with a joke, this can prevent any jabs to a student’s self-esteem and protect your teacher-student relationship.

  3. Appreciate Good Student Habits
    Unfortunately teachers find a lot of their interaction with students at a classroom level is due to disruption. When students are listening well or working quietly, make sure you appreciate that. Addressing the class with compliments is a great way to build teacher-student relationships. NEA provides these examples of positive statements towards a classroom:
    • "It's really great to see all of you start your homework without having to be told.”
    • “I appreciate that you are all working so quietly.”
    • “The bell just rang. I see that everyone is in the right seat. That's great.”
    • “It’s easy to carry on a discussion when people raise their hand and don't interrupt others. I appreciate that.”
    • “You're a great class; I enjoy being your teacher.” 

  4. Listen to Your Students
    Being open to receiving feedback from your students is a good quality to have as a teacher, as students like to feel as though they have some influence in what goes on in class. It can also lead to a respectful teacher-student relationship. Topics that could be up for discussion with students include school policies, assignments, and grades. Taking the time to listen to your students’ concerns and ideas shows them that you care and value their thoughts.

  5. Work on Your Teacher-Parent Relationship
    Having a good teacher-student relationship is great, but having parents and guardians on board as well is extremely helpful in fostering student success. Engaging parents in their child’s education often encourages better grades, higher test scores, reduced rates of substance abuse and better social skills. One way to do this is having open lines of communication with parents, which can be done easily with the help of your school notification system.

With these 5 helpful tips, you’re well on your way to creating incredible teacher-student relationships.

Alert Solution’s proudly works with many incredible K-12 teachers across the country and internationally. Our school notification platform, SwiftK12, helps foster positive teacher-parent relationships, as well as teacher-student relationships.  

Interested in learning more? Download our brochure today!

SwiftK12 Brochure Download

Topics: school announcement, power announcement, powerschool, education, parent engagement, parent communication, student engagement

Teacher Appreciation Week: We Appreciate YOU!

Posted by Nina Caliri on Thu, May 02, 2019 @ 09:05 AM

Thank You - Teacher AppreciationTeachers should always be appreciated.  Being an educator is an extremely demanding and important career, as it is teachers who play a large role in shaping for the futures of their students. They must understand certain subject matters, curriculum, and school standards as well as form connections and encourage students to succeed. For this reason there is a full week dedicated to showing teachers how much we appreciate them!

Great Schools put together a list of several characteristics that make a wonderful teacher:

  • They set high expectations for all students
  • They’re always prepared and organized
  • They engage students and get them to see issues from several perspectives
  • They form strong relationships with their students and show them they care about them
  • They’re experts of their subject matter
  • They keep open lines of communication with parents and guardians

With all the characteristics that make an amazing teacher, it’s up to the students and parents to make Teacher Appreciation Week one to remember!

Teacher Appreciation Week Ideas: Celebrate Your Teachers

  1. Appreciation Gifts
    A great way to celebrate your teachers is through considerate gifts. These could be flowers, chocolate, gift cards to their favorite store or breakfast spot, or jewelry. Making your gift meaningful by personalizing it can really show your teacher how much you care and respect them.

  2. A Thoughtful Letter
    Nothing says appreciation like writing it out in words. Younger students can make cards and draw pictures and older students can type or write up an honest letter of their appreciation. Earth Networks suggests students should “Make sure to highlight a specific instance when your teacher really helped you through a problem or helped you learn a difficult concept. Remember, some of the most important lessons teachers pass down to students aren’t academic lessons but life lessons.”

  3. Classroom Supplies
    Public school teachers often use their own money to buy classroom supplies such as paper, crayons, markers, etc. Consider working with classmates to raise money to purchase more supplies for your teacher! Not only is this thoughtful and something your teacher may not expect, but it also takes a significant financial burden off them as well.

  4. Class “Thank You” Book
    Earth Networks brings this great idea as something to present to educators during Teacher Appreciation Week. “This gift is the perfect place to have each student thank their teacher for teaching them something throughout the year.” One of the most touching gifts a teacher can receive.

  5. A Note From Parents
    A teacher is a partner and an ally to parents and guardians. With teachers spending the majority of the week with students, parents rely on them to keep them informed, address concerns, and be a great influence on their child. School administrators can work with parents to put together a nice letter or note for Teacher Appreciation Week by sending a message home through a school notification platform, such as SwiftK12. You can keep this under wraps and encourage parents to write a kind note to bring in and surprise teachers with.

At Alert Solutions we work with K-12 schools and districts, both large and small, across the country and around the globe. We know the hard work that goes into being a great teacher, and appreciate all that they do. 

We want to help you show your appreciation for your teachers! Contact us today.

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Topics: school announcement, power announcement, powerschool, education

A Round Up of Our Favorite K-12 School Cancellation Announcements

Posted by Tara Gibson on Tue, Apr 30, 2019 @ 09:04 AM

There is nothing like waking up on a cold snowy morning to the news that school is closed for the day. You get to sleep in, play with friends, and not worry about the dreaded pop quizzes and homework assignments that were due. Students look forward to these days every winter!

Cancelling school is always a tricky decision, as school administrators don’t want students to miss out on precious learning time. It can also be a burden for working parents who need to find last-minute child care or have to stay home from work. Some students also rely on school for regular meals. With that being said, student and faculty safety must always come first. You don’t want to risk the lives of the community by not closing the school’s doors for a day or two.

Students and parents may receive a phone call, a text, or maybe something a little different. Superintendents, principals, and teachers are getting more and more creative with their announcements to the school community. As the weather warms up, we want to take a look back at some of the hilarious school cancellation videos from across the country.

Our Favorite School Cancellation Videos

  1. Swartz Creek Community Schools – Michigan


    This hysterical superintendent and high school principal duo, Ben Mainka and Jim Kitchen, announced their school cancellation to the tune of “Hallelujah”. With thousands of views, their entertaining video quickly went viral. We must add… they have great voices! Alert Solutions is looking forward to another school cancellation song from them next winter.

  2. Pontotoc County School District - Mississippi


    This high school principal, Jim Matthews, posted this incredible twist on 50 Cent’s hit “In Da Club” and graced the Pontotoc community with “It’s a Snow Day”. Ending the school cancellation with a peace sign, this amazing video got hundreds of thousands of views.

  3. Durham Academy – North Carolina



    An oldie, but a goodie! This head of school and assistant head of school, Michael Ulku-Steiner and Lee Hark, announced there would be no school for Durham Academy due to “ice ice baby”! A clever school announcement that has over 5 million views on YouTube.

  4. Moses Brown School – Rhode Island



    Alert Solutions is proud to be in the same state as this ingenious head teacher at Moses Brown School. His twist on the popular Frozen song “Let it Go” was switched to “School is Closed”. This school cancellation was put together creatively to announce a snow day a few years ago, but is still on our radar as it is so clever!

Although snow storms and severe weather events can surprise K-12 schools and districts across the United States, your school can always prepare a funny announcement in advance and surprise your community when the time comes.

The Alert Solutions school notification platform, SwiftK12, allows school administrators to easily send out texts, calls, and emails in the case of a snow day. The SwiftK12 email notification has the ability to embed videos, which could be a great way to share a clever snow day song. With a great social media integration, teachers can also share funny school cancellations on Facebook and Twitter.

We challenge you to create your own funny school closure announcement and share it with us! Want to learn more about our school notification system? Download our brochure today.

SwiftK12 Brochure Download

Topics: school notifications, school announcement, power announcement, powerschool, education, parent engagement, parent communication

Anxiety-Fueled School Refusals - How Do They Impact Truancy?

Posted by Philip Young on Thu, Apr 25, 2019 @ 10:04 AM

Parents and educators struggle daily with children and students not wanting to go to school. That’s normal. When children and students completely refuse to go to school it becomes worrisome. Truancy is detrimental to a student’s success in school, and when a child is chronically absent grades slip and sometimes it is impossible to recover academically.

The Impact Truancy has on Student Academic Success

Truancy measures the number of unexcused absences a child has in school. Healthy Children has a number of startling statistics on chronic truancy in the United States, including the fact that it affects 6.5 million students nationwide. That’s nearly 13% of the total student population! Healthy Children states, “Children who are chronically absent in kindergarten and first grade are less likely to read on grade level by the third grade. For older students, being chronically absent is strongly associated with failing at school―even more than low grades or test scores.” A student who misses a lot of school is also more likely to drop out, or fail out without graduating.

There are a number of factors that could lead to a student missing school, and one of them is anxiety. About 5% of children have school related anxiety, which leads to them refusing to attend school.

A Closer Look at Anxiety-Fueled School Refusals

Anxiety-Fueled School Refusal - Truancy

According to KQED News, mental health professionals are taking a closer look at the run-of-the-mill truancy, and are now referring to some cases of chronic absenteeism as “school refusal”. This can be triggered by several factors including anxiety, depression, family crises, and other traumatic events, which can lead to weeks or even months of missed school days.

There is a lot to be said about the earlier manifestation of anxiety and mental health disorders in children and young adults. According to a study by the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics there are approximately 2 million American children and adolescents that have a diagnosable anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are also known to peak during the school year. This could be because of several factors such as student stress levels due to course load, or bullying and cyber bullying incidents.

Typically, anxiety develops for students when they are transitioning from middle school to high school, or often comes to light as young as age 5 to 6 years old. In younger children it’s a lot more difficult to determine if a child is developing a mental health disorder, as the symptoms are harder to read and present themselves as negative behaviors. The Washington Post explains, “Parents and educators are quick to spot the behavior problem, but they don’t always see the underlying anxiety that drives it… The challenge often lies in the fact that kids might experience these emotions for the first time, without warning. They don’t necessarily know how to connect the dots between a racing heart, a stomach ache, feeling dizzy and anxiety.”

School Refusals: When to Intervene

When should teachers and school administrators intervene when they notice school refusals? The short answer is as soon as possible. The earlier the intervention, the more likely a student can get back on track. The longer the child is avoiding school, the more likely they are to fall behind and experience more drastic consequences. According to the Carrier Clinic, children with unresolved anxiety can often self-medicate with alcohol and drugs, and make rash decisions that protect them in the short term. “One study found that teenagers and young adults ages 14 to 24 with social anxiety were nearly 3 times as likely to develop depression later in life than those without the anxiety disorder.”

A key way to addressing student truancy due to anxiety is by getting parents involved. No parent wants their child to drop out of school. Keeping open lines of communication with parents and guardians not only keeps them fully involved in their child’s education, but it’s also an easy way to determine if a student has a string of absences that could be related to anxiety or a mental health disorder.

Alert Solutions recommends using an automated attendance alert, which sends home a message to parents or guardians using their preferred communication method. Not only does this make both students and parents accountable, but it’s also extremely easy to set up with our school notification platform, SwiftK12!

With the increased pressure for K-12 schools to address chronic truancy, we’ve also developed a guide to help tackle and reduce absenteeism. Want to learn more? Download the guide below!

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Topics: student health, attendance, school announcement, power announcement, powerschool, education, truancy

National Admin Day: Say Thank You To Your K-12 School Administrators!

Posted by Nina Caliri on Mon, Apr 22, 2019 @ 09:04 AM

This week is Administrative Professionals Week, and on Wednesday, April 24th, we celebrate National Admin Day! Across the United States there are nearly 4 million secretaries or administrative assistants within the workforce, which includes the incredibly hardworking school administrators!

The History of National Admin Day

National Admin Day - Students Giving Admin Gift

According to Hallmark, there were three key individuals who led the effort to create Administrative Professionals Week/Day. They were; Mary Barrett, the past president of the National Secretaries Association (now known as the International Association of Administrative Professionals), King Woodbridge, the president of Dictaphone Corp., and Harry Klemfuss, the public relations account executive at Young & Rubicam. They worked together to get recognition for the skills, loyalty, and efficiency of administrators and secretaries in the workforce.. 

Back in 1952 the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Charles Sawyer, proclaimed the first observance of National Secretaries Week which was celebrated the first week of June. In 1955 the dates were changed to the current celebration during the last full week of April. The name of the observance changed a couple of times as the National Secretaries Association became Professional Secretaries International, and then developed into the Association of Administrative Professionals. This name change occurred to reflect the changing job titles and responsibilities of today’s administrative workforce.

How Your K-12 School Can Celebrate National Admin Day

Here are a few fun ways you can celebrate your school administrators for National Admin Day.

  • A Nice Handmade Card/Note
    Nothing says appreciation like a hand-written and handmade card! Include something meaningful about them that stands out to you. Showing you value the work they do will make their day.
  • Appreciation Lunch or Breakfast
    Host an appreciation lunch or breakfast for your staff in honor of your school administrators on National Admin Day! Bring in a catered meal, or make it a pot-luck and have other staff members and teachers bring in their favorite dishes. You could even hire some substitutes so that your faculty can all enjoy the delicious food without rushing.
  • Give Public Praise
    Giving public praise to your school administrators on National Admin Day is a great way to show your gratitude and respect, and it costs absolutely nothing at all! Share your praise on social media or during your morning announcements.
  • Spruce Up Their Work Space
    Surprise your school administrators by decorating their work spaces for National Admin Day. You can decorate with balloons and streamers to make them feel special.
  • Sweet Treats
    School Webmasters has cute ideas of ways you can say thank you with notes and candy. Some of them include:
    • “Thanks! You’re a real LIFESAVER.” (Lifesavers)
    • “Thank you for being a sweet and well-rounded secretary!” (M&Ms)
    • “You’re a JOY to have on our staff!” OR “Working with you is a real JOY!” (Almond Joy)
    • “You are out of this world!” (Milky Way)
    • & more fun ideas listed here!

Make sure you share the importance of National Admin Day with your staff and students by recognizing all they do for your school. Try sending out a parent notification so that nobody forgets! Our SwiftK12 notification platform allows you to segment your lists so that your school admins won’t know the surprises to come.

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Topics: school announcement, power announcement, powerschool, education

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