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  • AI Support for Enrollment, Registration, and Academic Programs During the Summer

    Summer programs are in full swing and school districts are already gearing up for the 2023-2024 academic year. With so much to do in such a short amount of time, it is critical to take advantage of modern advances, like Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology, to support summer learning, enrollment, and registration systems for the upcoming cycle. AI tools can provide 24/7 support, easing the burden on school districts and those school-site employees who may be off for the summer. With the help of an AI chatbot, families can receive answers to frequently asked questions instantly, regardless of the time of day, even when school is not in session. This ensures a seamless experience and eliminates the need to wait for human assistance. This also allows families to stay ahead by ensuring a smooth flow of information. Chatbots can send text messages, which have a higher open rate compared to email and postal mail, making it an optimal tool for alerting them about registration deadlines, useful information, and upcoming events. More importantly, AI chatbots can streamline enrollment processes, saving time and effort for parents and school staff. Chatbots can guide families through the various registration steps, assist with the submission of documents, and provide real-time updates on the status of their applications. By sending automated reminders, such as “Hey, there. We noticed you didn't submit your student's registration. We saved your progress here. Let us know if there is anything we could help you with”, chatbots can ensure that families don't miss crucial enrollment or registration milestones. These notifications can be personalized based on individual preferences, ensuring that the information is relevant and timely. AllHere, an award-winning text messaging solution that reinvents school-to-family communication, creates the above-mentioned personalized and engaging experiences between families and schools via an AI-powered chatbot. Through 24/7 two-way, real- time communications, AllHere engages with families to foster student recruitment, retention, and success. Many students are attending summer school, either to meet certain requirements via remedial courses or to participate in enrichment opportunities. The AllHere chatbot continues to be a valuable tool for schools and districts to utilize as the most efficient way to communicate with families throughout the duration of these programs. As an example, with the appropriate data populated, the AllHere chatbot can send individualized messages to those students who must take a remedial course in order to advance to the next grade level. Messages sharing important information are a great way to reach parents. For example, “Act now! Our summer school starts next week. Register here. Don't let all the spots get filled!” Additionally, during the summer break, families may have questions about their children’s future, such as course requirements and elective options, how to access study materials, or some may simply want support with academic planning. AI chatbots, like the one AllHere offers, can serve as virtual academic advisors, offering instant assistance and resources to address these needs. They can provide links to relevant materials, suggest additional resources, or connect students with the appropriate individual for further guidance. By offering immediate support, chatbots can provide families valuable information to help their children make the most of their summer break and prepare for the upcoming academic year. Lastly, using analytics about interactions with the chatbot can transform real family- school conversations into actionable insight. A quick family survey can help gather valuable feedback such as how students feel about starting school or what their biggest concerns are for the upcoming academic year. Accessibility and equity are a top priority. With AllHere, families can be reached where they are throughout the year, using individual messages and conversations as well as ongoing, district-wide campaigns—because relationships don’t stop when the school year ends. By leveraging AI chatbots, educational institutions can provide efficient and robust support to students and parents, enabling them to better navigate their own educational experience and make informed decisions about their academic journeys. To learn more about how AllHere can help your district this summer and beyond, visit

  • Transforming Education with AI: A Human-in-the-Loop Approach

    When it comes to Artificial Intelligence (AI), we are witnessing the dawn of a new era in many industries, and K-12 education is no exception. The introduction of AI-powered solutions into classrooms and educational systems promises to revolutionize our approach to learning, teaching, and communicating. Moreover, the potential to further connect schools and families is limitless, provided we deploy this transformative technology effectively. Effective interaction between schools and families plays a pivotal role in a student's academic success and overall well-being. Historically, numerous hurdles, including language and cultural barriers, have impeded the establishment of successful connections. However, AI has emerged as a beacon of hope, promising to overcome these obstacles and bridge the educational community. AI-powered platforms facilitate dynamic two-way communication between districts, schools, and parents. They provide real-time updates on students' attendance, academic progress, and more, allowing parents to stay engaged and informed. Meanwhile, AI-powered chatbots are ready to tackle frequently asked questions, freeing up the valuable time of school staff to address more intricate inquiries. AI also enables us to take a deeper dive into the rich sea of educational data. School and district leaders can leverage AI analytics tools to extract insights from data gathered via various channels, leading to more informed decisions and enhanced engagement strategies. Additionally, AI can proactively identify and address issues such as absenteeism and learning difficulties, thereby supporting early intervention strategies and promoting student success. While the potential of AI is tremendous, we must not overlook the inherent challenges associated with its deployment. Safeguarding the privacy of personal information is crucial in the school environment. Transparency, safety, security, control, and access to information all require careful management. Furthermore, the limitations of AI – such as its inability to emulate human judgment, emotions, and contextual knowledge – highlight the need for human oversight. This is where the concept of Human-in-the-Loop (HITL) AI comes into play. HITL AI merges the best of both worlds: the power of AI and the expertise and insight of humans. In K-12 education, HITL AI ensures a safe, secure, and effective learning environment. The system applies advanced AI algorithms to generate recommendations for education and support, which are then overseen and enhanced by the moderators. Their firsthand classroom experience and understanding of diverse student needs enable them to effectively evaluate AI-generated content and recommendations. Human-in-the-Loop AI is already proving its worth, paving the way for not only a safer learning environment, but also one that is more engaging and fruitful. This promising future is our chance to truly bring education to life in ways we've never seen before. Joanna Smith-Griffin is the CEO and Founder of AllHere. An educator and former school family engagement director, Smith-Griffin has been immersed in education her entire career.

  • AllHere Recognized for Educational Technology Innovation in 2023 EdTech Breakthrough Awards Program

    Prestigious International Awards Program Honors Outstanding Educational Technology Products and Companies BOSTON, June 12, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- AllHere, the leading provider of 24/7 family support in K-12 schools, today announced that it has been selected as winner of the "Social Recruitment Solution of the Year" award in the 5th annual EdTech Breakthrough Awards program conducted by EdTech Breakthrough, a leading market intelligence organization that recognizes the top companies and solutions in the global educational technology market. AllHere Recognized for Educational Technology Innovation in 2023 EdTech Breakthrough Awards Program AllHere has built a behaviorally intelligent chatbot for K-12 schools that makes 24/7 support possible for every family. Through its technology, AllHere provides scalable, equitable educational coaching and support. The chatbot helps to reduce chronic absenteeism and improve engagement with students and their families. "AllHere is honored to be recognized in the Edtech Breakthrough Awards for creating meaningful interactions between schools and families through real-time, personalized mobile messaging," said Joanna Smith-Griffin, CEO and Founder of AllHere. "We look forward to growing our impact and helping innovative districts across the country give every family the support they deserve." AllHere was founded in 2016 by Mrs. Smith-Griffin, a Harvard graduate and former teacher determined to create opportunity-rich lives for every child in America by providing families customized support to help them navigate their children's schooling. Supported by the Harvard Innovation Lab, AllHere is used by more than 8,000 schools across 34 states to guide more than three million students and families through their K-12 educational journey. AllHere's chatbot helps parents understand how their child is doing in class and how to obtain help with issues surrounding mental health, housing, transportation and more. The chatbot is a novel application of conversational AI and evidence-based intervention strategies. "Parents increasingly expect 24/7 support from schools, and AllHere empowers them to engage empathetically and quickly with every family no matter what technology they have access to or what language they speak. That's a true EdTech Breakthrough and we're thrilled to recognize AllHere," said James Johnson, Managing Director of EdTech Breakthrough. "By combining the latest advancements in AI into a simple, texting-based chatbot, every family can now receive the support they need from their school, when they need it." The mission of the EdTech Breakthrough Awards is to honor excellence and recognize the innovation, hard work and success in a range of educational technology categories, including Student Engagement, School Administration, Adaptive Learning, STEM Education, Remote Learning, Career Preparation and many more. This year's program attracted more than 2,400 nominations from over 16 different countries throughout the world. About AllHere AllHere is an award-winning text messaging solution that reinvents school-to-family communication, creating personalized and engaging support experiences between families and schools. Through 24/7 two-way, real-time communications, we engage with families to foster student recruitment, retention, and success. Using an intuitive chatbot, the personalized system combines AI and proactive messages to support families in their preferred language. Supported by the Harvard Innovation Lab, AllHere is used by more than 8,000 schools across 34 states to guide more than three million students and families through their K-12 educational journey. About EdTech Breakthrough Part of Tech Breakthrough, a leading market intelligence and recognition platform for global technology innovation and leadership, the EdTech Breakthrough Awards program is devoted to honoring excellence in educational technology products, companies and people. The EdTech Breakthrough Awards provide a platform for public recognition around the achievements of breakthrough educational technology in categories including e-learning, student engagement, school administration, career preparation, language learning, STEM and more. For more information, visit Media Contact: Charlotte Ward (530) 563-6860 SOURCE AllHere

  • How AI Can Provide Mental Health Support

    Every May, our nation observes Mental Health Awareness Month to raise awareness about mental health and help reduce the stigma associated with this global issue. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly one in five Americans lives with a mental health condition. Unfortunately, suicide rates have climbed following a two-year decline, and it is happening more often in younger minorities, according to a CDC report released earlier this year. Mental health is crucial to our overall well-being, physical health and plays a significant role in our lives and relationships. Self-care and healthy coping mechanisms, such as exercise, mindfulness, and maintaining a support network, need to be promoted and practiced. It is also imperative that we ensure mental health services and resources, such as therapy and counseling, are accessible to all who need it. Working together, we can create a more compassionate society that encourages open dialogue, understanding and empathy. In the United States (U.S), 1 in 6 children aged 2–8 years have been diagnosed with a mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder. Moreover, mental health support has long been an under-invested part of the U.S. education system. A pre-pandemic study found that the student to counselor ratio was almost 500/1. This means that students who would benefit from access to a mental health professional or social worker instead most likely ended up caught in a punitive cycle of discipline. This is especially true for black and brown families, who are more likely to experience mental health issues, including anxiety and depression, but less likely to seek help. This can be linked to the lack of access to culturally responsive healthcare. Thankfully, attention to this issue has been heightened and funding for mental health in schools has increased as well. With this, however, comes a responsibility to better support these students and their families, informing them of the resources available. Now more than ever, we need to build systems that don’t assume negative intent or disinterest, and instead, provide support for the whole child, starting with their mental health and well-being. AllHere’s AI-powered intuitive chatbot provides a unique opportunity to offer unbiased mental health outreach and support for communities that historically experience prejudice in our healthcare system, particularly for the parents of minority students who often don’t want to speak directly to school administrators about mental health issues. The AllHere chatbot offers a non-confrontational, non-judgmental way for families to ask for support that could help grow the number of children getting the help they need. Messages about mindfulness or resources that schools have available to deal with stress and other mental health challenges are just some of the examples of what the AllHere chatbot can share regularly with all families. It also provides free, 24/7 support via text message regarding all topics such as school, attendance, enrollment, anxiety, and all the challenges in between. The goal of each conversation is to get the right family and student, the right support, at the right time*. Sometimes that means being a coach and an advocate; that affirming voice; providing a family or a student with information, personalized support, answers to questions, or a resource or referral for help; and sometimes it just means being there and listening in the case of some mental health challenges, to assess what support mechanism that student may benefit from. A conversation usually lasts anywhere from 15-45 minutes, and we have found that districts using a chatbot to support health and wellness find that families are more willing to ask for support. With today’s modern technology, there are many additional resources available for mental health and wellness. AI, particularly chatbots, have reshaped the way we can communicate and reach students and families. Let’s take advantage of these advances to better support our children’s overall well-being. To learn more about how AllHere can offer school districts an additional tool to proactively surface mental health issues to school staff and empathetically guide parents to take the next best step for their child, visit *AllHere is not a mental health service or licensed provider. However, it can complement and support mental health resources in a proactive manner. #AI #mentalhealth

  • Appreciating Teachers and Educators with Much-Needed Support

    As we approach this year’s Teacher Appreciation Week and National Principals Day, it is important to reflect on how to best show appreciation for our teachers, school-site leaders and all educators who take care of our children day in and day out. Teachers, support staff and administrators are the foundation of great schools. Teaching has always been a job with enormous responsibility, but after the pandemic, families across the globe truly learned the VITAL role that teachers play in our children’s lives. Staff burnout is a reality that cannot be ignored, but there are many ways to assist our teachers and educators in thoughtful ways. Beyond the in-classroom celebrations and special events being conducted at schools during National Principal Day on May 1st and Teacher Appreciation Week from May 8-12, the best way to show educators we truly care is to create opportunities to simplify their jobs and reduce their stress levels. Decreasing administrative tasks for teachers, those that have little or nothing to do with teaching or supporting students, is one great way to do so. Finding ways to streamline communication processes for our administrators is another simple way to show just how much we appreciate them. Thankfully, through innovative artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, this is POSSIBLE in an efficient and effective manner! Modern technologies now combine “cognitive” functions and machine learning algorithms. Joining these technologies results in what is called an AI chatbot, currently AllHere’s main product. Rather than overworked and stressed humans sending messages to families and students, the AllHere chatbot can offload that communication. In addition, it can respond to questions posed to the bot. Chatbots can be leveraged to act as virtual assistants to save staff time in supporting large numbers of students and families. A chatbot armed with knowledge-based software built for real family conversations can dramatically boost a school team’s ability to handle the large volume of communications that take place each day. The more families engage, the greater the knowledge base grows, and the “smarter” the AI that powers the chatbot becomes. Best of all, the AllHere chatbot is available 24/7 via automated two-way texting in more than 100 languages! This innovative, novel, and evidence-based solution is proven to increase student participation in school, decrease dropout rates, and build school engagement with students and families, all while reducing staff time so they are able to focus on the highest-impact engagement activities. Unlike some tech solutions, AllHere doesn’t require additional apps or training for teachers, families, or students. Schools typically designate a limited number of team members to reply to the small percentage of communications the chatbot is not able to answer. This system lessens the already taxing workload of school and district personnel. AllHere also complements existing tools that educators may already be utilizing. Teachers, school leaders, counselors, and other staff can help students who need more personalized support. Most importantly, educators can stay one step ahead, with additional time to focus on complex challenges that require hands-on instruction. This is a WIN-WIN solution for students, teachers, parents, families, and school leaders as it ensures timeliness, relevance, consistency, and personalization of communications at a school or district. To learn more about AllHere and how school systems can better support their workforce and families, visit #TeacherAppreciationWeek #allhere #artificialintelligence #dropoutdropoutrates #chatbots #teachers #NationalPrincipalsDay #247 #AI #appreciation #texting

  • AllHere Wins DA Award for Top Ed Tech Product of 2023

    AllHere is proud to win District Administration’s third annual Top Ed Tech Products of the Year awards. After receiving over 200 submissions, the judging panel undertook an extensive reviewing process before deciding on 18 products as “the best of the best”. “AllHere is honored to be recognized by District Administration for helping hundreds of innovative districts connect with families through personalized text messaging,” said Joanna Smith-Griffin, CEO and Founder of AllHere. “We look forward to expanding our footprint to ensure every family receives the support they need for their children to succeed in school.” The AllHere team looks forward to presenting our winning product demo at the Future of Education Technology Conference Jan. 23-26 in New Orleans. The award program’s goal is to spotlight the most latest and innovative technologies in education that are helping district leaders meet the ever-evolving technology needs of their schools. Given how the current world of education technology is constantly growing, judges also sought to identify products that were created using the latest and most innovative technologies in education. “This year, we received a record number of submissions of amazingly innovative ed tech products,” said Lori Capullo, executive editor of District Administration. “I’m very excited to present the awards to the winners, who rose to the top for their inventiveness, originality and problem-solving capacities for educators.” To be eligible for the honor, tools must have been developed or updated within the last year and be generally available by August 2022. Submissions were judged on their innovation in the ed-tech space, with particular attention to how the tools are breaking new ground, how much value they add to education, how intuitive they are for users, and whether they deliver what they promise.

  • Lay a Strong Foundation with Families This Summer

    Summer break is here—and as education leaders heave a huge sigh of relief, they’re rolling up their sleeves getting to work building a foundation for the 2022-23 school year. One of their top priorities will be getting students back in school. Attendance fell to unusually low levels this past year. Some of the absences were due to COVID-19 illnesses and quarantines, but they don’t account for the full drop. Factors like trauma and housing instability also contributed to the decline. Before the pandemic, around 8 million students were considered chronically absent, meaning they had missed more than 10% of school days. Numbers are harder to come by since the pandemic—but experts worry that chronic absenteeism may be three times higher. This has wide-ranging impacts. Student learning and engagement suffers. Teachers have more stress to deal with as they try to get everyone caught up. State funding based on attendance and enrollment declines. And down the road, more young people are likely to leave high school without a diploma. If historic correlations between absenteeism and graduation rates hold true, that could mean 1.8 million to 3.3 million more students dropping out. Numbers like those are prompting administrators to plan and implement new and renewed attendance and engagement efforts—and summer is an ideal time to roll them out. Our new ebook Re-Establishing and Refining Attendance and Engagement Strategies Over the Summer offers ideas for getting started, addressing specific challenges, and leveraging technology to help with communication when staff time is in short supply. The ebook also highlights how AllHere’s adaptive, evidence-based system can be integrated into your solution for preventing absenteeism. It’s affordable, easy to implement, and accessible for families. Together, the strategies in the ebook contribute to cultivating a culture of engagement and attendance—something the nonprofit Attendance Works emphasizes as a key to decreasing the number of days missed next year. Access and download Re-Establishing and Refining Attendance and Engagement Strategies Over the Summer here. #attendance #chronicabsence #communication #engagement

  • Easing Back-to-School Stress Through Summer Prep

    Retailers focus on August as back-to-school season, but we know that behind the scenes, the real preparation begins long before families start stocking up on notebooks and markers. After two summers of uncertainty, school leaders have a better idea what to expect when students return to the classrooms for 2022-23. Some of the predictions are sobering. Prices are higher than projected when budgets were approved. Staff and teacher shortages are a formidable hurdle. Some students are still catching up from disruptions during the pandemic. But there are bright spots as well. Student well-being is at the forefront of everyone’s minds. Technology continues to improve. Federal funding is helping many districts increase student support, bridge local budget gaps, and move ahead with needed renovations and new construction. As you take stock this summer and plan for 2022-23, here are some resources to help you prepare for the hot topics now and ease back-to-school stress later on. Centering Students’ Experiences Researchers have spent decades studying the evidence around student learning, school climate, and inclusive support for all—and the sheer amount of data can be overwhelming. The Annenberg Institute at Brown University has compiled evidence briefs by top experts in response to commonly asked questions on topics such as academic recovery, attendance, school counseling programs, and more. These make a great starting point in reflecting on current practices and making changes if needed. To create space for identifying innovative approaches that might work well for specific challenges, consider research-practice partnerships. These connect researchers and education leaders to ensure a two-way flow of ideas so best practices are applied effectively AND future research is informed by the actual conditions and perspectives in the classroom. Check out this guide from the nonprofit advocacy organization Digital Quality Campaign to learn more. We’ve mentioned the Whole Student Approach before, in blogs like this one. If your school or district is exploring this framework, there are many science-grounded self-assessment tools online, such as the Turnaround for Children Toolbox, that can boost your decision-making process. School Safety Physical safety of campuses is top of mind for all administrators right now. As you review your protocols and procedures, take look at the collection of research-based tools from Safe and Sound Schools, the nonprofit formed after the Sandy Hook tragedy. is a project of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that offers a wealth of resources, webinars, and links about both physical and psychological safety. Effective Use of Resources Every school has plenty of internal committees, boards, advisory groups, and programs focused on how to make the most of their people, time, and money—but sometimes those in-house groups can use an infusion of new ideas and big-picture thinking. One example is these ESSER Staffing, Spending, and Scheduling Guides from the nonprofit research organization ERS. Educators’ time is an especially precious resource. We recently recapped how chatbots save time when it comes to communication by streamlining two-way messages with families across an entire school or district. Individual teachers and staff spend less time replying to routine questions and can focus on the highest priorities. Communication with Families Stay ahead of families’ start-of-school questions by ensuring a smooth flow of outbound information. Text messages have higher open rates compared to email and postal mail, which makes them an optimal tool for pointing families to online information and reminding them of action steps and deadlines. (And if you use a chatbot like ours, text messages are also great for incoming questions and concerns.) In-person events are making a big comeback this summer as a proven way to engage the community. Especially popular are one-stop-shops like block parties where families can meet staff and teachers, receive school supplies, get services like haircuts and immunizations, and—above all—build enthusiasm for the coming year. For ideas on planning and promotion, check out Attendance Works’ 10th anniversary awareness campaign. And keep an eye out next month for more about the importance of communication in setting the foundations of family engagement over the summer! #attendance #backtoschool #stress #summer

  • Make an Impact for Youth During Mental Health Awareness Month

    Throughout the month of May, organizations boost their efforts to raise awareness of those living with mental or behavioral health issues—and reduce the stigma people may feel when they talk about or seek help for those issues. This year, there’s a spotlight on young people. Many studies and surveys have pointed out the crisis proportions of mental health challenges in children and adolescents. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released survey data indicating that 1 in 3 high school students experienced poor mental health during the pandemic. Female students and those who identify as LGBTQ were impacted the most. Protective Factors for Youth With so much information available about students’ mental health—including AllHere’s webinar with David Adams, a board member at CASEL, recapped in this blog—we’d like to look at the many steps schools and districts can take to strengthen their students’ well-being. Build connections: The CDC survey showed that adolescents who felt more connected to people at their schools had better mental health. (Unfortunately, this protective effect was not found among students who had experienced racism.) They encourage school leaders to focus on establishing a safe and supportive space where all students feel connected to people who care about them. Provide accurate, reliable information: There’s plenty of research and expert knowledge about mental health—and also plenty of misinformation. Sites like are accessible, confidential, and full of helpful facts for those old enough to browse independently. It’s worth noting—as the National Institutes of Mental Health does in its sharable graphics and videos—that children and adolescents are also going through phases of development that can make it hard to understand what’s normal and what’s a cause for concern. Promote awareness: While static information on graphics and posters is helpful, peer voices are especially impactful. In May, organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Health are inviting people who have experienced mental health conditions to share their stories—and for those who have not to build compassion and empathy by reading their experiences. Offer programs and access to resources on campus: Studies have shown that comprehensive school mental health programs help students achieve academically and give them better access to experiences that build social skills and self-awareness. Many schools have already added social workers, counselors, psychologists, and other mental health professionals to address the effects of the pandemic. Some are also training their staff and teachers to recognize early warning signs and start the referral process. AllHere’s Commitment to Student Mental Health When we talk about our adaptive, evidence-based system, we often focus on the benefits of the AI-powered chatbot. But the human component—our Family Success Team—is crucial to ensuring smooth communication, especially in situations where a concern has become a crisis. The 24/7 availability of two-way text messaging reassures families and school staff that resources are just an SMS away. And the system is designed to escalate the most urgent messages to a designated person at the school. Connect with an AllHere team member to discuss how your schools can utilize tech to increase mental health supports. #behavioralhealth #mentalhealth #mentalhealthawareness

  • Strategies for an Equitable Approach to Attendance and Enrollment

    Chronic absenteeism continues to rise, and educators’ efforts to get everyone back on track have room for improvement at taking everyone—and their circumstances—into equal consideration. In our recent ebook Equity Matters in Attendance and Enrollment Recovery, we dive into who, exactly, is most impacted by these gaps, and provide tips and strategies on how to employ a more equitable method to get all kids back in the classroom, especially those furthest from opportunity. Here’s a sneak peek at the content. Who Is Most Impacted By Gaps? The number of families who said their child was on track to be chronically absent from middle or high school in late 2021 were nearly three times higher than before the pandemic, at 22%, compared to 8% in the spring of 2020. In addition to the impact on learning, they’re also missing out on access to meals, supplemental services, and physical activity. Students and their families who face significant hardships such as housing insecurity, language barriers, economic uncertainty, and other family stressors stand to benefit the most from equitable attendance and re-enrollment initiatives that use creative outreach strategies to go beyond a postal mailing. For example, they often experience basic communication barriers that schools can address by providing options in multiple languages and easily accessible formats like text messages. Equitable Strategies for Reaching Students Rather than taking a hardline tone (which is typically done in court summons or harsh letters), educators and administrators have an opportunity to approach communication with empathy and positively engage with parents in ways that will help resume daily attendance. Given the complex nature of chronic absence and unenrollment, schools’ approach also needs to be comprehensive. In the ebook, we outline policy recommendations and tangible tools that can be implemented at state and community levels. All of them align with these goals of an equitable attendance and enrollment recovery program: – Options to communicate in multiple languages. – A way to reach families and students outside of a postal mailing address. – A way to reach families and students in their preferred channel. – Encouraging, empathetic outreach that help nudge positive action. – Easily accessible information. – 24/7 communications availability—with an immediate response. Technologies such as artificial intelligence and chatbots can open up communication through two-way messages and 24/7 support in addition to automated reminders and research-inspired nudges. Best of all, they won’t add burden to school staff that’s already strapped thin, freeing them up to handle more urgent individual needs. Access and download Equity Matters in Attendance and Enrollment Recovery here. #attendance #education #enrollment #k12

  • How Chatbots Save Teacher Time and Help Meet the Need for Support

    As schools across the nation take a quick breather for spring break, educators are gearing up for what’s perhaps the most challenging time of the year. Teachers report that their stress level increases by nearly 20% from October to June, and their feelings of school connectedness and efficacy decline. This year they’re facing extra stressors, from COVID-related learning loss heading into the annual standardized testing cycle to upcoming school board elections that have contributed to a tense atmosphere in many districts. The risk of attrition is so high that states are taking unprecedented steps to keep teachers on the job in both the short term and for the future. For example, in early March, Iowa announced that it will pay full-time classroom teachers $1,000 to complete the remainder of their assignments through the current academic year. Around the same time, Texas launched a task force focused on teacher retention to address staffing shortages across the state. The pressure is on for schools’ human resource leaders, who rank their top three priorities as teacher recruitment, teacher/staff social and emotional well-being, and teacher retention. Spotlighting teacher recruitment and retention is bound to lead to innovative approaches and effective strategies … eventually. But meeting the immediate need for teacher support in day-to-day tasks is an urgent challenge. A Time-Saving Strategy You Can Implement Now One way that districts can relieve time pressure on teachers and staff right away is to add communication support in the form of two-way chatbot messaging. It’s a convenient, accessible channel for families to receive information from their children’s schools and get answers to routine questions—while decreasing front-line educators’ workload. This innovative, novel, and evidence-based solution was designed to increase student participation in school, reduce the dropout rate, and build school engagement with students and families. It also saves staff time. The chart shows examples from AllHere’s chatbot implementations within school districts of various sizes in the spring of 2021. AllHere’s team can set up its platform within weeks for new customers, with minimal extra effort or training on the part of school or district personnel. Once the chatbot is in place, families receive positive, conversational messages that contain relevant information or “nudge” them to take action. Families can also receive on-demand assistance by asking the bot questions—which are answered within seconds using information in the school’s customized, intelligent knowledge base. In the small percentage of instances where the chatbot doesn’t have the answer, it escalates the incoming text to a designated person for a live response. The new data is then added to the knowledge base, further enhancing its usefulness. This ensures that accurate, timely information continually flows both ways. Families are acutely aware of the challenges facing teachers, and most of them (73%, according to this poll released last August) are satisfied with their children’s education. They want to be part of the solution and support their schools’ teachers. When the Lansing School District in Michigan rolled out its chatbot, Mini, both educators and families started to look at two-way communication in a more positive light, said School Improvement Data Integration Specialist Dr. Liesel Carlson. “Families really appreciated that we were able to respond to them so quickly,” she said—but perhaps more importantly, given teachers’ current stress levels, “We were able to maximize our human capital, and AllHere was a key piece of that.” To learn more about implementing this time-saving technology as part of your comprehensive strategy to address teacher retention, connect with a member of our team. #chatbots #teachers #education #k12 #teacherburnout

  • SEL Day Discussion: Social Emotional Wellness for Today’s Students

    In honor of SEL Day, we wanted to take a moment to further discuss the topic of Social Emotional Wellness, which was the topic recently discussed by AllHere’s CEO, Joanna Smith Griffin and David Adams, CEO of Urban Assembly and Board Member at CASEL, during a District Administration webinar. Their conversation highlighted the need for institutions and individuals to partner as one society to make sure we are not only providing students with optimal learning environments, but also the social-emotional skills they need to go out into the world with the ability to solve problems and contribute to their communities. Here are insights they shared about the challenges and the solution sets during the webinar titled “SEL and Student Mental Health Support as Essential Components for Attendance and Enrollment Recovery.” An increase in stressors Academic stressors, social isolation, and family economic tensions are impacting the amount of attention students bring to their learning process. The result of these impacts can be seen in decreased attendance rates and enrollment loss, among other things. Additionally, chaotic learning environments, whether at home or in the classroom, reduce the amount of energy students can expend on learning. “The pandemic has everyone talking about learning loss and about students falling behind due to the disruptions of the past few years, but one of the things that we’ve heard more recently is the instinct to double down on academics. That is not the answer,” said Smith, who started AllHere after teaching in the classroom and directing family engagement at a school in Boston. “In fact, attending to the social and emotional wellness of the kids can help to create the conditions for learning to happen.” Equipping students to solve problems Social-emotional learning is how we relate to ourselves and how we relate to others in order to solve problems, which is why it’s such an important skill set—and not only for young people. The goal of school-based programs is to connect students, teachers, and parents with the tools and resources to get the help they need. However, many school systems treat social-emotional learning separate from academics, despite the need for it being more dire than ever. For example, they may focus narrowly on sending notifications and letters about things like “days missed” to parents rather than implementing the practices and policies that build relationships with students and create positive learning environments. “At the end of the day, everybody contributes to the social-emotional learning of young people. Even if you’re not teaching a social-emotional learning curriculum, you’re still impacting the social-emotional development of folks in your school—so let’s do it on purpose,” said Adams. “Let’s be intentional, come together in communities, and make sure young people can solve the problems we need them to be able to solve.” The connection to absenteeism and enrollment Absenteeism and enrollment are complex challenges that can’t be reduced to one single solution set. However, social-emotional learning can help in mitigating them, including through the development of high-quality relationships between students, teachers, and parents. “Parents have lost faith in our public institutions coming out of COVID with our ability to support learning,” Smith said. “It’s become incumbent upon us to prove to parents that we are the institutions that can develop the social, emotional, and academic outcomes for their young people.” This includes making sure parents and schools engage with each other in a positive way. When a school only communicates when a student is absent, for example, then parents start to associate school contact with negative outcomes. This is where tools like AllHere’s chatbot, which is programmed to use a conversational, approachable tone, can be a beneficial supplement to traditional communications. Additionally, parents are looking at the type of environments being created for their kids. “The more consistent the environment is, the fewer self-management resources students have to pull for themselves,” Adams said. Of course, he added, “We still need to teach students self-management skills, because not all environments are going to be perfectly conducive to learning. That creates flexibility in the learner. That’s why it’s important to both maximize your learning environment but also teach self-management skills so that students are flexible and can learn in different environments.” The unprecedented hardships facing students today also offer unprecedented opportunities for educators to support their social-emotional growth and help them develop the problem-solving skills they’ll need for the future. Would you like to continue the discussion? View the full on demand here or get involved via Twitter using #SELDay.

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