Progressive Learning: Gaggle Stays After School…or Comes in Early

Long time Gaggle customer Progressive Learning is a mentoring/tutoring program that is available in select schools, offering supplemental educational services either before or after school. Progressive Learning pre-tests students to identify gaps and then spends the duration of the program helping students overcome those gaps. They have a solid track record of success, often able to boost reading or math abilities by as much as two years during a forty hour program.

Founded in 1998, Progressive Learning uses a combination of methods to achieve it’s goals of academic improvement for its students. It leverages an online curriculum that children use from a school computer lab, facilitated by a staff teacher. Additionally, Progressive Learning students each receive a Gaggle account and this is the tool that delivers the mentoring that makes Progressive Learning such an effective supplement.

Each session begins with the student opening their Gaggle account and reading the latest email from their mentor (Academic Coach). While the mentor provides guidance about the English or math lesson that will be the day’s focus, the messages always start on a much more personal note. Mentors ask how students are feeling, how school was that day or may continue conversations about weekend plans or family events before discussing the academic focus for the day. Students literally rush to see what their Academic Coach has to say each day.

“I was in Chicago, getting ready to do training at one of our implementations, and was nearly stampeded by a group of third and fourth grade boys. When asked where they were going in such a hurry, I discovered they were speeding to their Progressive Learning session, anxious to see the email they were expecting from their Academic Coach,” shared Mary Kimball, Progressive Learning’s Director of Curriculum and Instruction.

“Because I believe that our continuing success with students’ academic improvements comes from the one-to-one connections formed by the Academic Coaches and their students, I consider Gaggle to be integral to our success. We use it in an extremely limited way – only leveraging the email system – but those emails and the interactions they facilitate are the core of our program. We’ve always believed that mentoring is what makes us successful and Gaggle allows us to bring teachers and students together from all corners of the United States. They may not share physical space, but the Gaggle-enabled communication creates a relationship that facilitates the education beyond our earliest hopes.

We’ve had some concerns in schools that aren’t as technologically advanced. Some principals worry about giving students an email account, but we explain all the security features of Gaggle as well as all of the restrictions Gaggle allows us to put onto the accounts. Gaggle allows us to restrict the use of the account, so that only communication between the Academic Coach and student passes through Gaggle. Students will try to email each other, but thanks to Gaggle, it just doesn’t work.

Last year, we tried to do our program without Gaggle. Our online curriculum package contained an instant-messaging application and we decided to try to use that. I’ve never had my teachers so upset. They missed the ability to email, to have a message waiting for the student each day, to easily archive all correspondence. They missed Gaggle: we brought it back to the program just as soon as we could. The frequent emails force students to put thoughts into words and ideas into sentences and help improve their skills using the written word.”

Even before Gaggle took their Gaggle Safety Management 24/7, it was helping Progressive Learning save kids. According to Kimball, she is aware of at least six potential suicides that Academic Coaches were able to prevent, including a student who responded to her daily email, including the “how are you” question, with a “not great. I just took a bunch of pills.” Subsequent emails included the student thanking her Academic Coach for taking action and saving her life. “We see enough issues pop up during these correspondences that we have a psychologist on staff so that we can have a professional review any messages that concern our Academic Coaches. From chatting about math concepts to learning about first kisses or fears of pregnancy, Gaggle provides a place for a relationship to blossom between our instructors and students who often could really use an adult who is tuned into them and cares about them.”

“Gaggle and Progressive Learning have been together for a long time. I’ve been watching Gaggle grow and have appreciated that, as they have grown, they have maintained their customer relationships and great customer service. We recently had an issue with a principal who was refusing to allow Gaggle into his school. Someone from Gaggle got on the phone, explained how Gaggle would keep his students safe and convinced him to let us use Gaggle and keep our mentoring program intact. The person who made the call was Jeff Patterson, president of Gaggle. It would be difficult to get better or more responsive service than that.”