Want to
dream again?
Hope is a Place Called School
By Kevin Baird
A

racing heart. Eyes wide open. Excitement mixed with anxiety. The first day of school … for teachers!

man sleeping on clouds with orange pillow beneath head
Want to
dream again?
Hope is a Place Called School
By Kevin Baird
A

racing heart. Eyes wide open. Excitement mixed with anxiety. The first day of school … for teachers!

Student with a mask on looking at his phone
Do you remember your first day in a classroom? For many of us, this fall will feel like a new “first,” our first time, greeting students back to school, into classrooms, after a period of trauma and upheaval.

Many of us will sigh with relief. Others may feel new anxieties or even struggle with personal trauma from the past months. But I know that every educator reading this will share one thing in common — hope for a brighter, better, joyous future for the students who are about to walk in the door.

The first line in the book “Whole: What Teachers Need to Help Students Thrive” is, “Education is a habitat for heroes.” It could have been “Hope is a place called school.” As we return to our scopes and sequences, our text sets and curricula, our best practices and fluency standards, it is critical to remember that learning is first and foremost about emotion, and that our own shared self-confidence is the key factor to our practice, just as student self-confidence is the number one factor for student achievement. (See the work of Dr. John Hattie for the science behind the sentence.)

woman with cloud reflection mirrored on her face
WE HAVE A LOT OF REASONS FOR CONFIDENCE!

In a few days from this writing, I will join my colleagues at MetaMetrics and Achieve3000 to release the 2021 National Lexile Study, again one of the largest and just-in-time research white papers on the experience of students in the schoolhouse — and this year, in their own homes!

Data from millions of students, many indicating their real-time learning location of home or school as their performance was measured, gives us hope that our students — and our teaching teams — have done well and are positioned to do even better.

Consider…
  • For many students, learning at home was more effective. They had more time, more focus, and fewer distractions.
  • Students across every single demographic group — Black, white, Latinx, Native American, Hawaiian, male, and female — saw gains in literacy skills using Achieve3000 during the past year.
  • Student response to new content illustrating the rainbow of student experience, including stories from NABU’s Haitian Authors Collection and new original fiction, was overwhelmingly positive.
  • Continuing one of the largest studies of student self-confidence in the world, we heard from English Language Learners that they were more confident in their reading than ever before.
  • More students, classrooms, and teachers took part in our “Finish the Story” writing challenges, and this coming year we will publish (for the first time!) student-authored content.

During the pandemic, I learned to dream differently. And together, with you — my educator partners — we are dreaming of whole new ways to coax that smile, open those bright eyes, and excite inquisitive minds into reading and wondering, dreaming, and learning!

woman at desk on computer
Many of us will sigh with relief. Others may feel new anxieties or even struggle with personal trauma from the past months. But I know that every educator reading this will share one thing in common — hope for a brighter, better, joyous future for the students who are about to walk in the door.
man and children reading books at a table
If your students use Achieve3000 Literacy or Actively Learn, Achieve3000 Math, or Smarty Ants, they will be greeted by new interfaces, new and exciting content, serialized fiction, videos with teachers helping think through problems (and letter sounds, phonics, and other foundational skills), poems and history, and simulations … and more!! We have been putting those new dreams into action, and we cannot wait for you and your students to experience our redesigned Achieve3000 solutions.
child looking out window at the stars
Wherever you may find yourself teaching or leading this year — welcome back! I hope you are ready to dream new, big, and exciting dreams.

Hope is a place called school, and I am more hopeful, more confident than ever before! I hope you are as well!

About the author

Kevin Baird (MBA, ALEP) serves as chief academic officer for Achieve3000. He is a noted leader in college and career readiness content, strategies, and standards. He has taken part in educational research on every continent save for Antarctica; consulted with governments to create college and career readiness initiatives; and has served as trainer and consultant for states and districts across North America. Kevin has served as chairperson and senior faculty at the non-profit Center for College & Career Readiness, and has collaborated with Achieve3000 for over 15 years and contributes as a member of our Educator Leadership Council.