Teacher Masks and the Need for Audio Enhancement

Teacher Masks and the Need for Audio Enhancement

These are unusual times. As students and teachers return to schools, wearing masks may become the next normal. Ensuring every student receives proper volume and clarity of instruction and can understand what is being taught can already be a challenge with the normal background noise of a classroom environment. With teachers needing to speak from behind a mask, classroom audio solutions become an essential tool in student education.

How does wearing a mask affect classroom communication?

We conducted research to understand how wearing a mask would affect communication in the classroom. The study was conducted with a video camera and type 1 real time analyzer/sound level meter positioned 25 feet from the speaker to capture what a student sitting furthest from the teacher would hear. The results show there is a significant difference in the quality of the teacher’s voice when he or she wears a mask.  From a student listener’s perspective, masks interfere with the teacher’s ability to communicate effectively.

The figures below represent the same sentence spoken by a teacher. Figure 1 shows the sentence spoken with no mask or microphone. Figure 2 shows the sentence spoken through a mask, still with no microphone. Figure 3 represents the sentence spoken through a mask while using a Teacher Microphone. The colors within each data block represent the levels measured at 1/3 octave frequency bands—green illustrates normal conversational level; yellow represents a quieter speech level at risk of being lost in background noise; and blue shows audio that is mostly lost in background noise.

This research demonstrates that using a microphone has a substantial impact on the clarity of teacher communication from a student listener’s perspective. Without sound enhancement, much of what a teacher says may get lost in the normal background noise of a classroom. This indicates that Classroom Audio greatly reinforces a student’s ability to clearly understand what is being taught.

5 Strategies for Leading Through a Crisis

A crisis has been defined as a “low probability, high consequence event that threatens the most fundamental goals of an organization.” It could be a natural disaster, act of violence, criminal act, an epidemic, or even a pandemic. Crises have happened throughout time, some on a small scale, affecting just one school or company; others on a large scale, affecting entire states, countries, or even the world. Leading during a crisis presents a unique set of obstacles and can prove challenging for even the best leaders. Below are some strategies that have served others well when leading their organizations through one or more crises.  

Communication

Leaders always need to communicate well, but during a crisis communication becomes even more critical. Members of an organization rely on clear and open information from their leaders—they want to understand what is going on, how it’s being handled, and what they might reasonably expect. The same is true of community members. When dealing with the COVID-19 crisis in her district, Samantha Fuhrey, Superintendent of Newton County Schools, GA, said, “…because this is such a huge issue for communities, you have to be even more judicious about the things you say, how you say them, and the level of transparency you provide to your community.”  

“…because this is such a huge issue for communities, you have to be even more judicious about the things you say, how you say them, and the level of transparency you provide to your community.”

Samantha Fuhrey, Superintendent, Newton County Schools, GA

When a crisis forces schools to close for a period of time, It’s important to give some additional focus to connect with students. Some students receive the majority of their support and structure from school—losing that can be a significant struggle. “We know some of our students, the only structure they have is at school and the safest place they have is school,” said A. Katrise Perera, Superintendent of Gresham-Barlow School District, OR. Specifically reaching out by phone to individual students to check in with them can be a key to helping them stay on track and feel supported.  

Self-Care and Wellness

“You cannot serve from an empty vessel,” is oft-quoted wisdom from Eleanor Brown. It holds true in a time of crisis just as much as any other time. It can be even more difficult for leaders to take time for themselves when others are struggling, but it’s critical. Planning time to maintain physical, mental, and emotional health can cultivate strength and energy to continue leading through the entirety of a crisis and after it’s resolved.  

Deliberate Calm

Leaders can set the mood for their organization through choosing to remain calm during a crisis. Nobody wants to see insincere positivity, but a sense of calm is appreciated and helps everyone to feel like they can manage their way through things. Fuhrey received feedback during the COVID-19 crisis from one of her staff, “It helps us so much, in the moment of crisis when we all feel like the world is falling apart, we hear your voice and you are so calm.”  

A strategy that can help with this is following the 80-20 rule—instead of spending 80 percent of their time and energy dwelling on the problem, leaders can choose to focus 80 percent on the solution and 20 percent on the problem. “When you turn it around, you’ll likely find you’re less stressed and more productive,” advises Lolly Daskal, national bestselling author of The Leadership Gap

Growth Mindset

Times of crisis present a perfect opportunity to practice a growth mindset. Leaders should avoid worrying about doing things perfectly. They can focus instead on taking what comes and working through it, always reviewing what’s been done and how well it worked. Jason Glass, Superintendent of Jefferson County Schools, CO spoke of their experience during the COVID-19 crisis, “We are in this cycle of implement, reflect, adapt, and repeat…”  

“We are in this cycle of implement, reflect, adapt, and repeat…”

Jason Glass, Superintedent, Jefferson County Schools, CO
Delegate

It can be easy for leaders to feel like they need to be at the center of everything and try to manage all facets of the situation, but different members of an organization have different areas of expertise. Sharing the load with others can ease stress and help things run smoothly. Hugo Bague, an executive at Rio Tinto during the Ebola crisis in 2015–16, experienced the value of seeking input from local teams who possessed a clearer view of the situation in their area. Giving local leaders autonomy helped them make the best decision in each circumstance.  

Nobody wants to lead through a crisis, but being ready to tackle the challenges that come with one is important for any leader. Staying focused on strategies that help an organization continue working together as a team, moving forward, and adapting as needed can help everyone work through tough circumstances in the best possible way.  

Do you have any additional strategies or tips that have helped you in a crisis? 

An ELL Student’s Experience with Classroom Audio

An ELL Student’s Experience with Classroom Audio

Classroom Audio Systems have obvious benefits for students with a hearing impairment, but there are benefits for many other student groups as well. From students with ADHD to specific learning disabilities, from English language learners to typical students, classroom audio promotes learning for all students, in every classroom.

We recently talked with Jimy Erekson, one of our sales representatives, about his experience growing up as an ELL student. He offers valuable insights and a unique perspective into the experience and challenges present when a student is learning a second language and new content at the same time.

An Active ELL Student

Jimy Erekson was an active student. He was adopted when he was five and spoke only Spanish. When he began attending an English-speaking school, Jimy didn’t understand what was being said. He found it easy to get distracted and focus on other things that he could understand. Jimy’s teachers worked with him as well as they could, but it was hard to keep a student engaged with a language he didn’t understand.

Jimy sometimes had an interpreter that would help him in class, giving Jimy an opportunity to learn the content in his native language. This helped, but sometimes even the interpreter couldn’t hear and understand what the teacher was saying. When the teacher spoke quickly, was far away, or was facing the board, Jimy’s interpreter did their best to quickly figure out what the teacher said, translate it, and move on before missing anything else. The challenge was considerable.

Learning to speak, write, and understand a second language created an extra challenge for Jimy. He couldn’t only focus on the content but had to give extra attention to learning the words as well. He remembers watching friends excel and learn quickly. He felt the disadvantage he was fighting through and could see himself falling behind his friends’ learning. He had to work harder to catch up. It was hard to feel like he couldn’t keep up with the other students in his classes.

The year things started to change

School continued to be a struggle and discouraging until Jimy’s fourth grade year when Jimy’s teacher wore a microphone. Suddenly, he was able to hear clearly. He could tell the difference between words like “tree” and “three” that had previously sounded the same. He could hear what his teacher said, even when their back was turned so they could write on the board. Jimy’s interpreter was able to decipher what the teacher was saying and confidently interpret for Jimy.

Jimy’s ability to take the English he heard and connect it to the Spanish he confidently spoke grew that year. He began to build confidence as a student and feel he could overcome the disadvantage he’d experienced. This was the year he started picking up more content and became more engaged and less distracted at school.

An unexpected bonus came during the story times that Jimy’s fourth grade teacher enjoyed holding. During story time, students had the opportunity to use a handheld microphone to read aloud. Jimy previously avoided speaking in front of the class because he felt self-conscious about his broken English. When he heard other students working hard to decipher and decode the words, he realized he wasn’t the only one who didn’t have a perfect knowledge. He learned it was okay to make a mistake with a word and be corrected. This helped Jimy have courage to speak more English, and when he spoke more, his learning accelerated.

When Jimy grew up and started his own family, he took a job selling Classroom Audio Systems for Audio Enhancement because he knew for himself the difference it could make for students. He had experienced the enhanced learning environment an audio system can create, and he wanted to help other students receive the same benefits he found when he was in school.

Jimy enjoys working in areas that have a significant number of English language learners. His background offers a unique perspective that can help school leaders understand what their ELL students are experiencing. Jimy is able to advocate for these students and help school districts understand the long-term benefits and growth ELL students gain when given the opportunity to hear clearly what their teacher is saying, year after year.

Restorative Justice in Schools

Restorative Justice in Schools

Many discussions in education revolve around behavior management and discipline. Different people subscribe to different philosophies, but one that is receiving a lot of attention is restorative justice or restorative practices. What is restorative justice? What are the advantages and disadvantages of implementing it in a school? Here’s what we found.

What is Restorative Justice?

According to We Are Teachers, “Restorative justice is a theory of justice that focuses on mediation and agreement rather than punishment.” The focus is on helping students learn to work through conflicts, coming to a solution that serves everyone well. “It aims to help students understand how their actions have harmed other people and give students a chance to right their wrongs,” is another explanation from Stephanie Wang at Chalkbeat.

Schools that practice restorative justice take a proactive approach—building relationships and developing a sense of community before incidents happen. Students are given opportunities to talk to one another, discussing goals, dreams, and fears so they get to know each other, understand one another, and build respect.

When an incident occurs, the offending student is given an opportunity to repair the harm they caused. They meet with those they hurt, along with a mediator, and discuss how they can make things right. All involved talk about what happened, why it happened, and the harm it caused. They then come up with a plan for righting the wrong.

Benefits of Restorative Justice

Implementing restorative practices promises many benefits. With the focus on building relationships and developing a sense of community, schools often establish a more positive climate. Students come to know and understand each other and learn to be more considerate of one another. Trinity, a fifth grader at a school practicing restorative justice in Denver, said, “When you go to school here, you get to know each other. At my old school, we never got to know each other—or to understand each other.”

Teachers and students develop a greater sense of mutual respect. A study shared by Hechinger Report found that students felt they had a better relationship with teachers who fully embraced restorative practices. “And the strong relationship in turn linked to a great sense of respect between teacher and student.”

Discipline issues may take away less from instructional time. Some teachers implementing restorative practices feel they spend less time disciplining and more time teaching. The focus on keeping students in school and avoiding suspension when possible can also help keep students in class, giving them greater opportunities to learn.

Restorative Justice Roadblocks

Restorative justice isn’t just an easy fix, though. Adopting the practice is not just a matter of flipping a switch. It takes time, effort, and buy-in from everyone involved—teachers, students, and even parents. If students aren’t willing to participate in the necessary conversations, the process will be halted. If teachers don’t see the value in shifting the way things are done, they will struggle to find the motivation to take on another new program and change current disciplinary practices.

Implementing restorative practices requires a shift in mindset. “Restorative justice can’t just be a set of things we do. It has to be a framework for how we view teaching and learning,” said Kathy Evans, associate professor of education at Eastern Mennonite University, as quoted in an article from Hechinger Report.

Research on the impact of restorative justice is sparse and not conclusive. The practice has been around in other settings for hundreds of years, but it is unclear how real and deep the benefits are in an education setting.

Have you implemented restorative justice in your school or classroom? What has your experience been?

Dr. Melissa Jackson, Regional Education Development Specialist

Dr. Melissa Jackson, Regional Ed Development Specialist

We’re excited to spotlight Dr. Melissa Jackson, who recently joined our team as a Regional Education Development Specialist. We recently had the opportunity to ask her a few questions about her background in education and experiences with Audio Enhancement.

You used to be a teacher—Where and when did you teach? What subject and what grade(s)?

I taught Middle School Language Arts in Newton County, GA for 16 years. I was blessed to teach in a variety of settings including EBD, Title One, and Gifted. I have 4 years of district leadership experience and have served as the District Instructional Technology Director and the District Gifted Director.

What made you want to become a teacher?

I didn’t really choose to become a teacher—it chose me. I have always loved to learn, but I didn’t like being at school. As a middle school student, I didn’t understand why school was so boring. I had a couple of teachers that made learning more engaging than others, but I had one teacher that truly changed the game for me. Mrs. Boyum was my 9th-grade Algebra teacher. She made each of us feel like we truly mattered, and she made learning fun. This made me want to do the same for others. I wanted other people to love to learn the way I did and see that learning didn’t have to be boring.

What was your favorite part about teaching?

My favorite part of teaching was middle school kids! I am a sassy person, and I love working with sassy middle school students—you never know what you are going to get from them. Seeing students begin to love learning and want to come to school because they know they are cared for is the best feeling in the world. I have many that I taught as middle school students that I was blessed to mentor as first year teachers as they began their careers. This was a true blessing. I truly cherish the relationships I built with my students over the years and credit them for building me into the person I am today.

What was your least favorite part about teaching?

My least favorite part of teaching was definitely knowing that I couldn’t fix all of my student’s problems. I am a very empathetic person and when students came into the classroom with the weight of the world on their shoulders, it was hard to feel like I couldn’t “fix” all their problems for them. I took all of their problems home with me each and every day.

When did you stop teaching, and what brought you to Audio Enhancement?

I left the classroom in 2013 to work at the district level and returned in 2018 for a short time. I left again in 2019 to join the Audio Enhancement family. As a district-level administrator, I was able to work with Audio Enhancement as a customer. I saw how much of an impact Audio Enhancement solutions made in the classroom. I was honored when I was asked to join the AE family and work with teachers nationwide to share the work we do and continue making a difference.

Why do you think Audio Enhancement makes a difference for teachers?

Wow… this is a big question for me. I genuinely have a passion for serving teachers and students. This is why I joined the AE family. Audio Enhancement was developed initially because a mother wanted to provide a better education for her children. This is the ultimate goal at the heart of every educator.

Audio Enhancement makes a difference because we listen to the needs of teachers to develop products FOR teachers. Education has become much too often about pushing products on educators that they don’t want or need and don’t work in a real classroom. The audio, video, and safety products really are designed for real teachers in real classrooms. As a person who has always loved learning, it makes me feel good that I can help teachers use things in their classrooms that help them continue learning and become better teachers. I know this means we will have more students that will love learning.

We are grateful to have Dr. Jackson as part of our team and appreciate all the knowledge and experience she brings. Her insights are priceless in helping us understand what educators really want and need and how we can help them the most.

Classroom Audio—A Student’s Perception

Classroom Audio—A Student’s Perception

Studies about the effectiveness of classroom audio systems have been conducted for decades. Research demonstrating the benefits of classroom audio is abundant, accessible, and probably not new to many educators. But do classroom audio systems really make that much of a difference in real-world application? What effect can a system have on the way a student perceives their teacher?

Meet Lizzie

Let me introduce you to Lizzie, my daughter, who is now in seventh grade. Lizzie received an ADHD diagnosis when she was in second grade. She was diagnosed with a learning disability and a significant executive function delay in sixth. She has a hard time reading people and shows signs of anxiety. And school has always been a challenge for her.

Starting at the end of third grade, Lizzie often came home upset because her teacher “yelled at the class” that day. I was surprised by this as I had met her teacher, and she didn’t seem like the yelling type. I would ask clarifying questions, and she would assure me the teacher had yelled. I was concerned but not alarmed, as Lizzie’s understanding of events was not always accurate. This pattern continued through fourth grade.  

No More Yelling

I gained a new understanding of the situation Lizzie’s fifth grade year—that year she never complained about the teacher yelling at the class. Her teacher was nice, like the other teachers that she identified as “yellers,” but Lizzie never came home upset about the teacher yelling. A few months into the school year, I learned about classroom audio systems. Then the lightbulb went off, and I asked my daughter if her teacher wore a microphone.

“Yes, she does.”

Did Mrs. _______ wear a microphone?

“No, she didn’t.”

How about the teacher from the year before?

“No, she didn’t wear a microphone either.”

Lizzie’s Perception

In sixth grade, we were back to stories of the teacher yelling at the class. Once again, when I met the teacher, I couldn’t picture him yelling at the class. But I could picture him raising his voice to speak over a room full of excited students. In Lizzie’s eyes, he was yelling. In Lizzie’s eyes, all her teachers who didn’t wear microphones yelled at the class.

The teachers I know are kind and love their students. They wouldn’t yell at their class in anger, yet that is exactly how my daughter interpreted their “teacher voice.” To her, the class was getting yelled at most days, except for the year her teacher used her teacher microphone. For my daughter, who is sensitive to loud noises and has a hard time focusing, the use of classroom audio completely changed her perception of her teacher and what happened daily in class.

Top Ways to Use Cameras in the Classroom

Video Review for Video Reflective Practices

Top Ways to Use Cameras in the Classroom

We live in a world where cameras are everywhere, and they have been making their way into the classroom. Students carry them in their pockets every day in the form of cell phones. Teachers have cell phones, tablets, or other devices with cameras. Some classrooms even include installed cameras. Since the cameras are a part of our lives, how can teachers leverage them to enhance learning in their classrooms?

Share lessons with students

Whether absent, studying at home, or working in a flipped classroom, students can be helped by accessing lessons outside of school. Students who miss class for extra-curricular activities, medical absences, or in-school-suspension can keep up with the class. When studying from home, students can review difficult concepts and have a parent or guardian review the lesson so they can understand what’s being taught. Teachers using a flipped or blended learning model can record any lesson they need to share with their students.

Professional Learning

Lifelong learning is important for everyone, including educators. When teachers record lessons, they can review what happened later to reflect on their strengths and areas where they’d like to grow. Video gives a clear, objective record of events. Video can improve self-reflection by clearly showing the “instructional reality.”

“When we record ourselves doing our work, we see that reality is very different from what we think.”

Jim Knight

Cameras open doors for capturing lessons and teaching moments to be shared with others—professional learning communities (PLCs), teaching teams, instructional coaches, and others. This increases options for feedback. It also expands options for collaboration within a school and even with other campuses. For small or rural schools where teachers may feel isolated, sharing video opens up their network and enhances opportunities for collaboration.

Student & Teacher Safety

Cameras can provide an accurate, unbiased record of classroom events. When teachers encounter bullying, fights, or conflicting reports of others’ actions, a video record can clarify what actually happened. If a student reports a classroom incident incorrectly or parents are concerned about how a student is being treated, a recording can ease concerns and give a clearer picture to all parties involved. Even knowing that events are or can be recorded can help everyone be mindful of their words and actions, creating a more thoughtful space for everyone.

When it comes to cameras in the classroom, there are a lot of mixed feelings from excitement to concern. How do you feel about classroom cameras? Is this a trend you embrace or want to avoid?

Growth Mindset—What is it and how is it beneficial?

Teacher giving feedback to students

Growth Mindset—What is it and how is it beneficial?

Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset—are these familiar terms? The concepts and their effects on learning have been an object of discussion for many inside and outside the education community. A growth mindset has been shown to increase learning and success for students, so it’s important to understand what it is, the benefits, and how individuals can develop it.

What is a growth mindset?

A growth mindset consists of believing that intelligence, skills, and abilities can be developed through work, practice, and consistent effort. People with a growth mindset welcome feedback and constructive criticism as a way to see where they can improve and grow. They value the learning process and welcome opportunities for increased development.

By contrast, individuals with a fixed mindset feel that everyone is born with certain traits and skills—people are either good or bad at things. Constructive criticism feels like a personal attack. Failures feel permanent because failing at something demonstrates a lack of ability. Living with a fixed mindset requires proving worth and value over and over again.

There are things that can be mistaken for a growth mindset. A growth mindset is not just applauding effort; progress needs to be made. It’s also not the same as being open-minded or flexible, and it’s not all-or-nothing where someone is either all growth mindset or all fixed mindset. Everyone experiences each at different times and in different areas of their lives.

What are the benefits of a growth mindset?

Developing a growth mindset opens opportunities for people to:

  • —Learn and achieve more
  • Rebound faster from setbacks, failures, and disappointments
  • —Avoid wasting energy worrying about approval from others
  • —Increase collaboration, innovation, and creative risk-taking
  • —Sustain personal motivation
  • —View difficult tasks as opportunities to expand abilities
  • —Perceive challenges as an exciting chance to grow

How to develop a growth mindset?

Since it is so beneficial to have a growth mindset, how is one developed? Here are some strategies we found:

  1. —Focus on the process that leads to learning, like hard work and trying different strategies
  2. —View challenges as opportunities instead of obstacles
  3. Prioritize learning over seeking approval
  4. —Reward and praise what people do and how hard they work, instead of individual traits
  5. —Practice receiving feedback as an opportunity to improve, not as a personal attack
  6. Reflect on learning every day
  7. —Always be working toward some kind of growth and learning goal
  8. —Give yourself time—learning and growth don’t happen overnight
  9. —Support others (and yourself) in developing any skill of interest
  10. —Celebrate the success of others and use it as motivation to work hard and succeed!

Developing a growth mindset is helpful for anyone, at any stage of life. Research shows that it helps people be more successful. What have you done to develop a growth mindset in yourself or others?

5 Tips for Maintaining Focus in a Busy World

Focus and Mindfulness through deep breathing

5 Tips for Maintaining Focus in a Busy World

With so many differences between us, there is one commonality everyone shares—busy lives. There are numerous demands on our time and energy, countless activities and events we can be a part of. This can make it difficult to stay focused on the things we really want to accomplish. When our schedules become too full and leave us feeling like there’s too much on our plate, what can we do? We reviewed some ideas and compiled five tips that can help.

Establish Priorities and Values

An important first step in managing your focus is to determine what’s most important and what you value. Then align your values with your time. Determine your “why” and keep it in the forefront of your mind to stay on track.

Plan Ahead

Start every day making intentional choices and plan how to spend your time. One source recommended choosing the top three tasks to accomplish each day and remaining focused on those most important tasks. Once you’ve decided what you’d like to do and how you want your day to look, move forward with that vision in mind.

“If you’re feeling overwhelmed, ask yourself if it’s because you’re on the edge of doing something awesome or is life showing you that something needs to be cut out?”

Shawn Blanc
Limit Distractions

Take inventory on what takes up space in your life, whether physical or mental, and decide what can be cleared out. Organizing your physical space and clearing out clutter is a great place to start. To tackle the mental space, limit notifications on cell phones, computers, and other devices; set boundaries for social media participation; and avoid getting caught in the trap of constantly checking email. Set aside a time for these and other tasks and commit to it.

Say No

This one can be particularly difficult, especially for people in a helping profession. There will always be invitations extended for additional work responsibilities, service opportunities, and social engagements. When they arise, remember the priorities and values you’ve already identified, and take some time to consider before responding. If the new invitation doesn’t fit within that framework, politely decline.

“You can’t serve from an empty vessel.”

Eleanor Brownn
Mind Your Health

Maintaining your health is critical. We need to be able to functional physically, mentally, and emotionally. You can help yourself physically by taking time to exercise, being careful to eat foods that leave you feeling your best, and leaving time for enough sleep. Your mental health can be supported by practicing mindfulness and meditation or even something as simple as taking a mental break when things get particularly taxing. In all of these areas, it’s important to support emotional health by celebrating progress made every day—don’t beat yourself up when you’re not perfect!

As busy as our lives are, it’s possible to maintain our focus with a little planning and care. What have you found effective in staying focused in a busy world?

Integrating Coding and Robotics in Schools

little robot

Integrating Coding and Robotics in Schools

Educators are always looking for the best way to educate students and help them succeed. They innovate and look to the innovations of others. They review different trends to understand the benefits. Some trends grow as they’re adopted into teaching regimens while others are left behind. One of the teaching trends that’s persisting and continuing to grow is coding and robotics.

What gives coding and robotics staying power?

With so many education trends coming and going, what keeps robotics and coding moving forward, growing from a trend to a regular teaching strategy? As technology advances, so do the number of technology careers available. When students get to experience STEM subjects and their practical application, those students are better prepared to fill technology jobs. In addition to subject-specific skills students learn, they also gain experience in thinking critically and solving problems.

What are the benefits of coding and robotics?

Coding and robotics programs offer many benefits for students, including increasing engagement, developing high-level thinking, and fostering empathy and creativity.

As students experience learning through coding and robotics, engagement rates may rise. Robots are interesting. Learning about them and making them work can be a lot of fun. Some students even find a new passion and discover a new learning pathway for their themselves.

Working with coding leads to high-level thinking. Students get to see how their decisions affect the design and function of the program or robot. The coding process helps them think a few steps ahead, a skill that can be used often in life.

Working with robots and coding is a great time for students to work in a group and develop teamwork skills. As they plan and troubleshoot, they practice collaboration and build communication. Working in a group also gives students an opportunity to emerge as leaders—both the type that will speak out and help direct the work to the quiet, behind-the-scenes leaders who keep the group on task and perform technical jobs.

Another benefit of coding and robotics work is the opportunity to develop creativity and empathy. As students work toward solving a problem, they have to come up with new ideas and think outside the box to find a solution. They also use their creativity to design and create their own product when they’re coding games or apps. Empathy is strengthened as students consider the end-user’s needs. Thinking about what would create the best experience for someone else moves the focus from the student to another person.

How do you effectively integrate robotics and coding?

Starting to integrate coding and robotics into a classroom can be intimidating, especially for educators who don’t have a lot of expertise on the subject. Fortunately, there are people and resources readily available to help.

A good place to start is with other people. You may find people in your school who have experience with coding, and online groups can also guide you through the process. There may even be experts in your community who would be happy to share their knowledge.

In addition to seeking help from other people, there are websites and apps dedicated to helping students learn to code. Code.org is a well-known one to start with, but there are many others, as well. Kits and games can be purchased, too.

One of the best overall tips we saw is to keep it fun. Encourage exploration, play, and discovery.

With all of the interest in and benefits of coding and robotics programs, it appears this trend is going to stick around for a while. Have you tried it in your school or classroom?