What We’ve Learned So Far in 2024

2024 got off to a fast, exciting start with students returning to classes in January, AASA’s National Conference on Education in February, and ASCD’s Annual Conference in March! The Discovery Education team gathered the highlights of these engaging events—read on to catch up on what we’ve learned so far!

How Can Leaders Move the Needle on Student Success?

Student success is a top priority for superintendents, principals, teachers, and parents, and engaged students have proven to be successful students. Educators know that students need to feel supported before they can successfully participate in learning and that the learning process needs to keep their interest. With numerous conference sessions on strategies for increasing student engagement and ways to maintain that engagement, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, district leaders are searching for a wealth of strategies and tools they can bring to their teams to help engage all students in learning.

Rethinking What Student Success Means

Another important conversation around student success has recently blossomed—one that aims to define what student success actually looks like. With the growing popularity of designing a portrait of a graduate, leaders are re-examining exactly what student success looks like for a graduate from their district. Districts have realized that defining the attributes, next steps, and skills of a well-prepared graduate helps set a vision for what type of coursework and pathways we offer to students during their K-12 journeys.

How Can Leaders Effectively Respond to the Needs to Transform Education?

The recent buzz on leadership focuses on the ways leaders can inspire transformation from their position. Responsive leadership is imperative as new innovations continue to pop up—leaders are expected to weigh in on new initiatives and ideas that will have a downstream impact in the classroom. Both the AASA and ACSD conferences highlighted the importance of leading from where they are.

Leaders can meet this challenge by focusing on the current conversations in their district or state, looking to school leaders in their district for input “what’s new”, and becoming involved with classrooms to see learning in practice.

Education leaders must define and measure student outcomes through collective efforts. This requires staying up to date on cross-team conversation, collaboration, and communication to help continue to inspire transformation.

How Can Leaders Cultivate a Positive School Culture?

2024 started with many conversations around district culture and fostering a supportive environment for both students and teachers. Many leaders shared their advice for creating conditions that will encourage and motivate teachers to continue teaching.

District leaders suggest reflecting on what makes your district unique—both in triumphs and challenges—to inform what your district truly offers its team. Building a brand for your district has been a hot topic, as it can help highlight what matters for teachers, classrooms, and students.

Districts across the country will have similar mantras and goals, but how they execute those goals will differ. Knowing how those goals align to what your district has in place can help leaders nurture aspects of their culture they want to flourish further or help identify areas for necessary growth.

Culture doesn’t stop with employee engagement and retention—it also extends to the parents and students in a district. Engaged families lead to engaged students, so holding space to hear from families on their questions, concerns, or wonderings can help inform areas for further transparency or new strategy in your district. Students have also found their voices and are speaking up more now than ever, and student voice is an indispensable tool for leaders. 

Looking to hear about the impacts of district initiatives? Students are the ones who have experienced these initiatives firsthand, and elevating their voices can help them feel heard while also offering insight into potential changes that may help improve district culture further.

What Digital Tools Will be Effective for Teacher's Toolkits?

The digital world has made its way further into the classroom with curriculum, engagement tools, and media.Leaders continue to have valuable conversations about effectively implementing digital content for instruction.

Leaders at AASA and ACSD identify the value of digital resources to provide differentiation and more personalized learning experiences. Strategically selecting digital curriculum and tools that can help support educators and students is more important than ever, as new tools have been popping up at every turn.

Of course, we would be remiss to leave out the two letters on everyone’s social media feed and popping up at each conference we’ve attended so far this year: AI. Superintendents are being asked questions about policies related to AI—and the changes to how AI could be used in the classroom have been rapid. Leaders are actively discussing the impacts and potential drawbacks of AI’s use in education, but the conversation will continue to evolve as we see AI in practice, and leaders will need to this is another topic each leader will need to navigate with their personal district’s situation in mind.

With 2024 off to a great start, there is always more learning to come. Discovery Education is excited to support the learning process for all students and educators—stay tuned for more updates here on the Discovery Education blog!

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