2023-01-24 14:00:00

Teacher-Student Connection Builder Provides Effective Solution to Address Gaps in Schools, Report Reveals

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PR Newswire

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 24, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- According to a new survey released today by Rochester Public Schools (RPS) in Rochester, Minnesota, more than 80% of its teachers and students in the district using Along—a free teacher-student connection builder—felt increased connections with each other. The survey also showed that Along provided a way for the students of RPS to feel seen and known.

"After experiencing the collective effect of the pandemic, we determined that creating inclusive, safe, and welcoming environments where students can be the best version of themselves had to be a priority and that relationship building is a key component of this. And, this is backed up by ample research indicating the important correlation between mental health and feelings of connection, "said Will Ruffin II, Executive Director of Equity and Engagement, Rochester Public Schools—which is the 7th largest school district in Minnesota and comprises approximately 17,700 students. "We started using Along as a way to help bridge connections between teachers and students and to build up our schools' pride and culture."

RPS piloted Along for 3 months during the 2021-2022 school year. At the end of the pilot, RPS surveyed the educators and students who used Along to understand the impact of Along from their perspectives. Findings include:

Educators connected more openly and could engage differently in the classroom after using Along:

  • 81% of teachers said that Along helped them be more open with their students
  • 76% of teachers said Along felt connected to important topics in their classroom

Students felt more connected with their teachers after using Along:

  • 83% of students said that Along has helped their teacher get to know them
  • 76% of students said that Along has helped them be more open with their teacher

Along builds positive teacher-student relationships:

  • Before using Along: 88% of teachers said "I showed my students that they matter to me"
  • After using Along: 98% of teachers said "I showed my students that they matter to me"

Students of color felt more seen and known after using Along:

  • 84% of students of color said that Along helped their teacher get to know them
  • 83% of students of color said that using Along has helped their teacher be more open with them

A recent, separate study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that compared to students who did not feel close to people at school during the pandemic, students who felt close to people at school during the pandemic had a significantly lower prevalence of poor mental health (28.4% versus 45.2%). Research shows that when students have at least one supportive and caring adult relationship, it's one of the strongest predictors of resilience to adverse life experiences. Further, when students can connect and form relationships at school, it drives a greater ability to learn and a stronger sense of self.

For more information about the survey, please visit our case study.

To explore Along and to sign up for free, please visit https://www.along.org/.

For additional information about Along:

About Rochester Public Schools

Rochester Public Schools, located in Rochester, Minnesota, has the seventh largest enrollment in Minnesota and covers a large part of Olmsted County and extends into Wabasha County. The district's pre-kindergarten through grade 12 program serves approximately 17,700 students in sixteen elementary schools, four middle schools, and three comprehensive high schools. The district also offers various alternative schools and six district-wide programs. Rochester Public Schools' educational program is designed to reach all students.

About Along

Along is a teacher-student connection builder provided at no cost by Gradient Learning, a nonprofit organization founded and led by educators who are driven to bring communities, schools, and families together in pursuit of meeting the needs of every student. Using simple, yet powerful, reflection questions, Along helps to solve the connection gap between teachers and their students by fostering authentic conversations. Along was recognized with a "Special Mention" on TIME's Best Inventions of 2022 list. It was also named a 2022 "Best Tool for Back to School" by Common Sense Education, an independent and trusted source that educators turn to for support about technology to use in the classroom. It has also earned the iKeepSafe FERPA and COPPA privacy badges. With the support of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Gradient Learning partners with communities, schools, and educators to create solutions—such as the Summit Learning program and Along—to meet the holistic needs of every student while fostering success for all.

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