It's the PALS Press

October 2020

How are you doing?

Before we get into anything regarding PALS, I just want to take a moment to acknowledge that this week is a wild one for everyone in AISD, and against the backdrop of national media and politics, it all may be feeling like a little much.

Remember that you're not alone in this reality, even if your campus community doesn't feel like family. If you are feeling overwhelmed, or just need to vent, please reach out.

I want to draw special attention right now to the current TBRI newsletter, linked below. There are strategies and insights there for you and your students to practice mindfulness, consider other coping strategies for managing stress, and to check in with ourselves and our students.

Special thanks to Teri Wood, the AISD coordinator for TBRI, and the TBRI cohort for assembling these materials. Now, more than ever, they are gold.

Looking for feedback and program information

Please take a moment to fill out two surveys if you haven't yet.

This one is a rundown of your program: Where you are, how many kids you teach, what projects you have in the works, etc. This is a great way for you to let me know if you are feeling stuck or need help doing project planning, getting in touch with feeder schools, etc.

This one is a place for you to offer feedback on the secondary curriculum and elementary resources so far. You can help me know where your students are at by letting me know if the lessons I'm writing are useful, responsive to student needs/curiosities, and if they fit into your teaching style.

Thanks for helping me support you! Special shout out to Tabitha, who gave me some great reminders and insight into her students' learning lenses at Travis, and to Kat, who has invited me into her PALS class, literally, by adding me to her Blend. It's great to see and hear from students, and to know how the class is unfolding in real time. :)

Do you have a mentoring plan in place?

If the answer is "no," don't feel poorly! I'm happy to help you figure this out.

  • Secondary peeps, if you haven't already, reach out to the elementary counselors in your feeder pattern. Not sure who they are? I can help! You'll want to introduce yourself, let them know what PALS is/does (in case they're new), and tell them which days and what time your PALS meet. Some elementary campuses will be excited to make pairings work. Some will need more time. Either way is fine!
  • Are you mentoring students on your campus? This week is a great time to follow up with assistant principals, counselors, graduation coaches, dropout prevention specialists, and even parent support specialists to make sure that you have a group of students to mentor, and that your school community is aware of the resource you're offering.
  • Remember: You can always start by asking what the need is that must be met. You don't have to both identify the problem and provide the solution (unless you have a strong inkling and a vision). Finding partnerships with other adult stakeholders on campus will help you keep focus with your PALS, and will give you a problem-solving team.

As always, please ask me for any kind of help you might need! I'm happy to brainstorm, collaborate, connect, and advocate. Just whistle!

Peer Mentoring Gets National Attention

The PALS Press is About You!

Please remember to send me pictures, info on your activities, student spotlights, and any other relevant news so that I can highlight it all here. Just because your students are learning virtually doesn't mean that great things aren't happening!

About Austin ISD PALS

PALS is a cross-age peer mentoring program founded at Crockett High School in Austin, Texas in 1980. PALS support K-12 students at all levels of their education, and are at work at more than 60 campuses across Austin ISD.