Bring Xello to Life in the Classroom Part 1: Supporting Students Through Transitions
In this quarterly series, we kick things off by sharing tips to enable classroom educators to finish the year off strong and support future readiness as students transition to new grades.
Now that we’re nearing the end of the school year, most educators are already (of course!) thinking ahead to the next.
This brings up crucial questions: Are we making the most of our future readiness program? How can I extend my activities beyond myself? What do I need to do to enable my students and/or staff?
Classroom teachers and other frontline educators are our future readiness program gatekeepers. They are the key to bringing Xello to life with students. So, what do they need to incorporate future readiness goals into their planning?
To create a constant in their teaching practice, an educator needs to feel ownership, which means breaking down how careers education is connected to their goals and seamlessly integrating future readiness lessons into their curriculum.
For our Xello program coordinators, ensuring your frontline educators (teachers, substitutes and special education specialists) are able to reinforce using Xello with fidelity means removing the common barriers to tech adoption.
Here’s how you can alleviate those barriers and enable classroom engagement:
1. Make Access Easy: Getting into the Xello platform needs to be straightforward and easy, especially for those who have little to no Xello experience.
- Use support materials like posters to help students gain access or review articles to troubleshoot signing in instructions.
- SSO (single-sign on) integration can help reduce the friction with this point of entry.
2. Promote Familiarity with Xello: Many teachers and frontline educators want to feel like they are in command of a tool before they direct students to use it.
- Our Get Started page has short videos and other longer-form materials to help staff become more comfortable using the common features of your program. Use these periodically as refreshers at the beginning and throughout the school year, at critical times like college application and course planning season.
- Coming in the 2022/23 school year: Xello Academy, a free online learning management system that offers self-paced, self-directed courses to get educators more comfortable using Xello. Speak to your Success Manager about adding it to your training plan.
3. Integrate with Curriculum: Successful programs approach future readiness as a shared goal, intertwined with a student’s personal development. Offering teachers ready-made lessons that connect students’ work in Xello to their social and emotional skill-building means they don’t have to wonder how future readiness activities should fit into their curriculum. And, after you show them how to incorporate Xello into their classrooms, they’ll be able to see the why, with the insights gained from student engagement reports.
- It’s vital that students have multiple entry points for access. Our teaching resources take the guesswork out of how to integrate Xello and future readiness activities into curriculum planning.
But mostly, keep it fun! Career exploration isn’t homework, it’s personal development. If you stress this point with your educators, they’ll start to see it as less of “one more thing on the list” and more as an opportunity to help students grow! Here are a few ways you can enable them.
Ending the Year Strong with Xello Lessons
In the two years since the pandemic began, many educators have taken on unconventional roles and duties. This presents the challenge of coming up with content for different subjects and grade levels. Let us help with that! Career education is useful in every subject matter and can be used both as a unit of study or a stand-alone lesson.
One new resource to help educators is our Xello Lessons Pacing Guide. This guide, available at both the 3-5 and 6-12 levels, provides educators with the guidance they need to stay on track with the sequence of lessons. It outlines where students start at each grade level, prerequisites required for each lesson, and lesson resources.
If you’re a teacher with a new assignment this year, don’t worry, no background knowledge required! The pacing guide is designed to be used by educators immediately with directions on where to start and what your students need to be successful, effectively providing better access to our Xello curriculum for both educators and students.
Educators will also notice the inclusion of lesson plans for each prerequisite, again for both grades 3-5 and 6-12. These plans aim to help educators ensure that each student has what they need to get the most out of each lesson, and to take the guesswork out of getting there! Since many educators have their students fill out their About Me profiles to start, the Introduction to About Me prerequisite lesson (both for 3-5 and 6-12) is an excellent place to start each year. This gives students the chance to update their goals and interests from year to year, and if a student is new to Xello, helps them get up to speed with their classmates.
The end of the school year finds educators feeling frazzled—there’s always a growing to-do list, coupled with time to fill between testing and the usual celebrations. But Xello can help you fill those gaps while preparing students for the next stage in their education. Xello’s asynchronous lessons allow students to work through material at their own pace. If you’re short on time, these can all be done within one class period, though you have the option of using lesson resources to extend them!
If they weren’t able to get to them earlier in the year, Xello’s lessons are excellent exercises for educators who need career-readiness content later in the school year. Within Lesson Resources for grades 3-5, for example, every mission comes with an IRL Mission supplemental activity, such as Teach a Topic! for Mission: School Subjects (Grade 3) or A Person Who Persevered! for Mission: Facing Big Challenges (Grade 5).
Similarly, a lesson like Time Management (Grade 6) can apply to most topics in any curriculum, and comes with extension activities like a Time Management Self-Assessment and a strategies activity to help students better manage their time.
For high school students, a lesson like Work-Life Balance (Grade 11) is broadly applicable to different subject areas, and extension activities like Balancing Act direct them to consider the various demands on their time and how to strike a healthy balance—a lesson we could all use!
Supporting a Successful Transition to High School
This time of year in particular, it’s important to focus on supporting students’ successful transition between middle and high school. Many educators have found that students have a more successful start in high school when they start preparing in middle school.
As a former ninth-grade teacher myself, I observed that many students started the school year lacking the practical and emotional preparation for high school. The 8th grade lesson plan Transition to High School addresses this by guiding students to investigate their secondary school options and identify questions and concerns they have about entering high school.
High school students looking for direction after graduation can use both lessons and our Xello Support tools. The Xello Job Interviews lesson, in particular, helps students prepare for future interviews. Another helpful resource for students in their accounts is the College Planning page under Goals and Plans. Using this page, students research the schools they’re interested in, build a plan, and then track the action items, deadlines, and application progress for each institution using the College Applications tracker.
Bringing It All Together
We know small, consistent actions can help lay the groundwork for lasting habits. How to build a routine that incorporates them, however, is easier said than done. So, let’s recap some of the ways to make it easier to partner with classroom educators to build those habits in your schools:
- Make Xello relevant to the current curriculum. Find a way to position future readiness activities as a shared goal to the curriculum needs of classroom educators. This is how you’ll get time in their everyday classroom planning! Our Xello Alignments for ASCA Mindsets and Behaviors is one example of a great place to start.
- Offer detailed lesson plans. The plans linked above are a great starting point for easing teachers into the curriculum because they are ready-made and good to go! In addition, the pacing guides and prerequisite plans will provide an easy-to-follow map of Xello content for educators who are just embarking on their Xello journey.
- Build connections. Being open to feedback is crucial. In order to learn what works and what doesn’t for students, you have to be open-minded and understanding of your frontline educators and their feedback. It’s vital knowing that they’re heard and it goes a long way in terms of motivation!
Remember, the more educators become comfortable using Xello and understand the power that comes from seeing engagement, the more they’ll find ways to incorporate it into their curriculum. And once those habit loops begin, you’ll start seeing students take more ownership of their goals and plans.
But you’re not alone! Beyond your own community of educators, you’ve also got a team at Xello who can help you achieve your goals. Be sure to reach out to your Success Manager for tips and tricks on how to keep your students engaged.