We know that students’ post-secondary success isn’t the result of just one educator. In fact, it takes the efforts of many stakeholders to help students develop interests, choose classes, apply for scholarships and college, and eventually find careers in the real world. 

We also know that for an educational program to be successful, a district must commit time, resources, and teacher training to make it effective.

While Xello’s K-12 college and career programming easily checks the box of helping students learn future-readiness skills, it can be so much more with some thoughtfulness and dedication to implementation. 

Below are some ways that districts can roll out Xello so that every department can utilize its features and students can reap all of the benefits the program has to offer. 

Train All Teachers and Counselors

It is imperative to train the school staff on Xello, whether it be by a Xello liaison or a building lead. This training not only allows for teachers to learn the ins and outs of Xello, but also enables them to view the website from students’ point of view, collaborate with other educators, and plan an implementation guide. 

Districts need to spend significant time on-boarding staff. Because educators already have so much on their plates, adding an additional online program to their curricula without a proper introduction and training will result in Xello and future planning being thrown by the wayside.

Despite what may be written on paper, districts announce their priorities to teachers by how they allocate their efforts and time. By carving out professional development surrounding Xello, the district will send educators a message that future planning is essential to the success of students. 

If a district or building lead will be presenting, please keep the following in mind when training staff:

  • All educators need to have access to Xello before the designated training. Teachers won’t buy in if they can’t log in! Spend time before their professional development to double check that everyone has a Xello account and has access to your school’s specific login link. 
  • Work with your district technology coordinator to ensure that your school’s specific single sign on link is uploaded to its online platform, such as the district website or technology portal, Schoology, Blackboard, or Clever. Access to Xello should be quick and easy. 
  • Walk colleagues through the dashboard and give them a moment to explore different features of the program. Teachers have access to demo student accounts on their educator dashboard, allowing them to view the program from a kid’s perspective. It is recommended for all educators to explore the website from the perspective of a student and complete some of the lessons to get a feel for the programming. By engaging in the content themselves, teachers can help direct students and help problem-solve hang-ups.
  • A simple way to teach the ins and outs of the teacher dashboard is to play the multimedia resources, such as these for grades 6-12, that are short, clear-cut videos about the different Xello components.
  • One of the best ways to ensure multi-year, multi-disciplinary student engagement is to divvy up lessons and content among teachers. Once teachers have been exposed to the grade-level assignments, it will be much easier to naturally embed Xello content into classroom content. For example, if students are learning different ways to organize notes in science class, it might be a great opportunity to jump onto Xello and go through the time management and organization lesson. Alternatively, if students are making New Years’ resolutions in homeroom at the start of third quarter, it makes sense to start the lesson with the goal setting video. 

Download Free Guide: An Educator’s Step by Step Guide to Implementing Xello in a Virtual or Hybrid Setting

Promote Xello’s Features to Gain Entire Staff Buy-In

There are a lot of shiny new programs for educators, so in order to have the most staff buy-in, teachers need to know the “why.”

Xello’s content lends itself to all educators and all students: it helps students determine their interests, set goals, practice executive functioning skills, and explore different colleges and careers.

In order to make Xello appealing to teachers and counselors, the program’s features should be promoted in a way that makes implementation and usage seem like a no-brainer. Below are highlighted features to gain staff buy-in: 

  • Personalized, Self-Paced Lessons for All Students: Although Xello prides itself on being a student-focused, self-guided program, teachers have the power to create assignments with deadlines. Student needs are vastly different and Xello provides needed flexibility for teachers to differentiate their lessons, whether it stems from individualized education plans or simply grade level accommodations. Information and lessons can be read aloud or captioned for students so that every kid in the classroom has equal access to the content. 
  • Engagement Reports to Guide K-12 Programming: Xello also allows educators to gain valuable insights with ready-made engagement and profile reports at the student, school, and district level. With the click of a button, teachers can view engagement levels, work completion, and collective answers. As good educators know, data is just the beginning; teachers can use this student work, such as popular saved careers or learning styles, to create and modify new tasks. Counselors can also utilize reports throughout the year to make sure students stay on pace, and also use those results to create small groups and individual planning meetings with students. 
  • Collected Information Will Help Teacher/Student Connection: Engagement reports, as well as access to comprehensive student profiles, allows all educators (from second grade teachers to career and technical educators) to better understand their students, their learning styles, and their goals, making future-ready instruction and conversations more meaningful. In addition, these student profiles are shareable with parents for student support and aligned communication for post-secondary decisions. 
  • Easy Planning for Days In and Out of the Building: With many schools resorting to hybrid models or quickly moving to remote learning, Xello allows for consistency in and out of the classroom. Besides assigning lessons, teachers can elect to require prerequisite work before students are able to access assignments, ensuring completion of different components of the Xello profile. If a teacher is out on sick leave, Xello is an easy addition to the day’s lesson plans. Even with a substitute in the room, the teacher can feel fully confident that their students are engaging in important personalized learning. 
  • Built-In Social Emotional Learning: In addition to helping students adopt future readiness skills, Xello also helps kids build social-emotional skills in its lessons and activities. Xello has also created a library of supplementary activities for K-5 students that focus on mindset, learning skills, self-management skills, and social skills. While these can be used to introduce the Xello lessons, they also provide intentionality when it comes to forging students’ pathway to future-readiness. These supplementary activities are modifiable for any grade level and can either be introduced in a live virtual classroom or be given as an option to complete at home. 
  • Communication Within the Platform: One way to make sure students stay on top of their Xello work is to message them right in the portal. As previously stated, educators have the option of viewing engagement and completion reports to monitor student progress. They can also message students individually or as a group if assignments are not completed or students need to rework some of their answers. This messaging feature actually works both ways; students can easily communicate with teachers if questions arise during lessons, scholarship searches, or filling out the linked Common App. By utilizing the two-way messaging system, districts can feel confident knowing that students– in-person or remote– are on track. 
  • Course and College Planning Tools: Students can not only explore and determine their interests, but also act upon them. Xello’s course planner allows students to save, track, and sign up for school courses, all within the program. The college planning section allows students to apply for local scholarships and helps them navigate FAFSA, access and request their transcripts, and even directly apply to college through the linked Common Application. Xello’s streamlined information creates a one-stop-shop for counselors and students alike, making organization and prioritization a breeze.

Communicate To Families About Xello

One of the most important stakeholders in students’ future planning are families. It is important to introduce and promote Xello; the program even provides an introductory parent letter, which covers everything from the purpose to online safety features.

Some districts have created personalized Xello school t-shirts, hosted career family nights, or have featured a “career of the month” at school and on social media. By constantly communicating about Xello and the impact of future readiness skills, districts can help continue the conversations taking place in classrooms to ones families have at the dinner table. 

By being meaningful with coordinating Xello efforts across multiple disciplines, schools and district leads can help integrate future planning into all classes and curricula.

This will directly lead to students and staff seeing the benefits of future planning. Xello just doesn’t help kids find a college or career; more importantly, the programming helps students gain skills to become well-rounded adults that have developed successful character traits.

All educators should want that for the kids that sit in their classroom, and by investing a little focus and energy into Xello planning and implementation, all stakeholders will be helping to create a stronger future generation. 

Read more: Integrating Xello Successfully in Your District and Bringing It to Life in Your Schools

    ABOUT KATE

    Kate McKenzie is a School Counselor in Cincinnati, Ohio. She is committed to exploring the many facets of lifelong learning & believes that building skills at a young age helps prepare students for future academic & social-emotional success.