How EduGuide Lightens the Load for Students and Staff

by Minette Dueñas, M.Ed, Collaborative Learning Leader, PSJA T. Jefferson T-STEM ECHS

I attended the school I now work in. I had drama with Mr. Fuentes out in what is now the Science building, band with Mr. Aikin in a building that no longer exists, Texas history with Mr. West in the basement and English with Mrs. Vega on the top floor. My biggest worry was the daily homework Mrs. Riely mercilessly assigned and whether Xavi would notice the new outfit I was wearing.

But that was a different time, and this is a different school. I see them walking on campus, their backpacks laden with college textbooks and I know the things they worry about do not compare to what many of us remember from our own high school experiences. They also carry invisible backpacks heavy with the worries of their home lives and the stresses of being a teenager in schools today. It’s tough, and a majority of them do not have the supplies to help them cope with what they carry.

Each year our district analyzes trends in our academic data and provides us with three focus areas. I was elated that this year, in addition to recognizing gaps in our academic proficiencies, the district also saw the need for a focus in social emotional intelligence. The problem became how to tackle something so critical to student success with the same passion and drive that we would tackle an academic trend.

EduGuide has provided us with a solution to those needs. Each week, the students are given engaging scenarios and thought-provoking situations that are applicable to many of the challenges they are facing. With each scenario, they reflect upon a goal for the week and identify ways to accomplish the goal. Because they are using their phones, it’s fun and it’s very easy.

A senior student, E.S., said, “I love EduGuide, it’s like my personal diary. At first, I was skeptical about knowing that someone else would be reading my entries, but it has been nice knowing that someone is taking the time to respond to what I am saying and what I am feeling.”

A junior student A.E. said, “Any teacher who knows me well knows that I set impossible standards for myself. I have been this way for as long as I can remember. My grades are extremely important to me and I will admit that I spend an obscene amount of time perfecting my assignments. EduGuide has forced me to not only look but reflect at an outcome in steps. I see how things can be manageable.”

Our teachers love it as well. Ninth grade ELA teacher Alyssa Medrano told me, “We have a 30-minute advisory period every day. EduGuide fits perfectly into what we call Wellness Wednesday. I love that the students have come to look forward to completing another activity on their path, and I appreciate the fact that I can track each student’s progress to make sure they are working.”

Speech teacher Michael Dominguez said, “I had taken a break from education and this is my first time back in the classroom. In many ways, I am like a new teacher. At first, I was worried that this was going to be one more thing I had to do. But EduGuide provides all the curriculum and planning within its program. It has been so easy. In addition, because I am able to follow the activities the students are doing in my own path, I too am reflecting and setting goals for myself. It’s so fun to receive a cheer from my colleagues because I know I am supported.”

I cannot say enough about all of EduGuide’s amazing features. A few weeks ago, I received an alert from the system’s Crisis Catcher. One of our students had written a reflection and used words that triggered concern. I was not only notified immediately, but I also received a personal email from one of EduGuide’s employees to make sure I had followed up on the situation. This tool is so critical to identifying potential harmful situations. The system alert was amazing, but the fact that it was followed by personal communication speaks to the fact that EduGuide is truly committed to their mission and vision.

Unfortunately, students lack the skills to be able to process stress and deal with it in a healthy manner and we do not offer classes that teach them. Students today face far more challenging scenarios than we could have ever imagined. EduGuide is ground-breaking and is a tool that every classroom in America should be using. The program may not completely remove the invisible backpacks, but it will definitely lighten the load.

EduGuide

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