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AHS Staff Remain Connected to Students

Armstrong Staff Remain Connected to Students Through BARR Program
Posted on 04/13/2020
Armstrong staff connect virtuallyIn response to school closures related to COVID-19, Robbinsdale Area Schools staff have been brainstorming ways to keep students connected. Staff understand the importance of maintaining relationships and keeping students engaged during distance learning in order to ensure educational success. In an Education Week article titled Maintaining Ties When School Closes is Critical to Preventing Dropouts, Robbinsdale Armstrong High School staff are highlighted for their efforts.

This school year, Armstrong High School implemented the BARR program - Building Assets, Reducing Risks (Cooper High School began utilizing BARR last school year). BARR uses a variety of strategies to build intentional relationships with students; utilizes real-time data; and enables schools to achieve concrete academic, social and emotional outcomes for all students. These strategies include focusing on the whole student; providing professional development for staff; fostering a climate for learning; creating cohorts of students; holding regular meetings for teacher teams; conducting risk review meetings; engaging families in student learning; and engaging school administrators. This model can be especially important for 9th graders as they transition to high school and experience new academic pressures.

“BARR is a vital program to the success of freshman students. It offers a structure of positively connecting with students academically, behaviorally, and with attendance,” said Erick Norby, Principal of Armstrong High School. “Teachers meet in teams and celebrate students' success, but also will look at positive interventions with students if they are struggling in a certain area. It develops teamwork and consistency for the staff but it also gives students an opportunity to know staff care and will not let students slip through the cracks. It also allows for peer mentoring as well as tutoring to help students with academic needs, and builds a sense of community. It has made such a positive impact with our Armstrong Freshman promoting excellent academic performance, positive behaviors, and high levels of attendance, “ he continued.

Staff have moved to virtual weekly meetings with students to continue connecting with students, while monitoring academic and social-emotional progress goals, and working to identify students who may be struggling to adjust to distance learning.

"The idea is to try to find ways that, once a week at the minimum, you're doing some sort of face-to-face where the students can hear you talking and they can respond to you in conversation," said Anne Beaton, an Advanced Placement teacher and coordinator of the Armstrong’s BARR program, which creates teams of teachers and staff to support students. "We're using [online tools] to get kids to be able to video themselves and put their voice out into the world.”

Read the full Education Week article here.