Our Blog:
The “Buzz" from Thriving Students Collective

I am a school psychologist and an “accidental” entrepreneur.

For a long time, I was a late adopter of new tech, because I found it intimidating. I’m embarrassed to admit that when texting first came out, I was highly resistant and actually told my best friend, “Why text when you can call?!” When my friend told me to join Facebook, I was all, “I guess…but who will even use this?”

Yet somehow, in 2017, I conquered my tech-phobia and launched an online course for school psychologists to band together to fight burnout. Online courses with this newfangled “Zoom” thingy seemed the only way to reach colleagues across the country, so I did it. I was blown away that over 100 people joined the The Thriving School Psychologist Collective® in the first week of my launch.

Emboldened by the ability to use tech to scale to reach my school psych peeps, I embarked on a journey where I have learned all kinds of three letter tech acronym thingies I never wanted to learn about, like DNS settings, SSO security, and CSS. And I’ve been stitching everything together with Zapier (and a dream) ever since.

A few years later, that dream evolved into the Thriving Students Collective, an all-in-one professional development platform for K12 to prevent burnout and up-skill educators to support neurodivergent students and students with mental health challenges.

Thankfully, as we’ve grown, my incredible team has found good people to help with these techie things, and as a result, I’m thrilled to announce that we have just launched our newly upgraded Thriving Students platform!

For the announcement, I had Chat GPT create an fancy frog image (based on our frog mascot, Lily), and as you can see, it did not disappoint…

Our new platform so fancy, you’re gonna need a top hat.

If the “Netflix of Thriving” and the “Fun of Duolingo” Had a Baby…

Why is our new platform so fancy? Let’s count the ways (and shout out to my awesome team for making it happen!):

Fancy Thing #1: Our Platform is Fun

I recently presented for an organization of school counselors in Australia on burnout prevention and one comment in the chat stuck out at the end:

“I was so afraid this training would be about symptoms of burnout and vicarious trauma and blah-blah-blah telling us to do self-care. I’m so happy I attended, because it was so fun, practical, and I can start doing micro-habits today!”

As a school psychologist, I know the challenges educators face every day – from supporting neurodiverse learners to battling burnout. And there’s a lot of professional development that gives information about burnout and not a lot of practical strategies that can be used as a transformation to thriving.

That’s why we’ve created our Micro-PD (professional development) platform, designed to bring joy back to educators with fun, quick, and engaging videos and workshops that fit right into busy schedules. Imagine TikTok meets Masterclass – but for PD!

We have micro-credentials, badges, and prizes for educators that they can earn just by watching content they love. (A favorite right now is the Burnout Ninja badge–fighting burnout with a hi-ya!).

Best of all, district and school leaders can choose learning plans with their teams, based on their priorities and professional development arcs. Want to up-skill the team on managing student behaviors? Understanding neurodiversity? Beefing up executive functioning strategies in the classroom? There’s a badge and learning plan for it!

My fave is the Behavior Badge, the “Co-Regulation Owl.” Maybe she and Duo the Duolingo owl can be friends?

Fancy Thing #2: Our Platform has Trusted Content for Educators

I’ve shared before the shocking statistic that while 80% of students with disabilities spend their day in general education, only 17% of teachers feel equipped to support them. At Thriving Students, we’re changing that statistic.

Our fancy AI-powered tools, like the SmartSearch Assistant Lily, helps educators find exactly what they need to support neurodiverse students, when they need it. Our efficacy studies show that teachers feel more empowered and confident to teach things like executive functioning skills to all students and SEL for neurodivergent students and after engaging with our content.

Plus, our ‘5 to Thrive’ streaming service and downloadable resources ensure educators are never left without support for students with mental health challenges. It’s all about making learning practical and next-day actionable, without adding extra stress of going down an untrusted google rabbit hole to find research-backed resources.

Thrive Hive TV Network has over 30 trusted content creators for “just in time” resources for home and school

Fancy Thing #3: Our Platform Saves Time

Over the past 20 years, I have had a handful of useful professional development. Sadly, more often, professional development that was a giant waste of time because it wasn’t differentiated for the adult learners in the room.

I once attended a full 6 hour district training on a reading assessment that a) I was never going to use in my role and b) the district didn’t even have or plan to purchase! WHAT? One time, I asked my 18K school psychologist community what was the worst PD they ever went to, and the “winner” was an educator who was in a district that spent $30K on a motivational speaker who told them to “water the bamboo” and then everyone got a copy of the speaker’s book and no one spoke of it again.

That’s why our mission is to reimagine professional development in K12. Instead of passive “one-and-done” high cost professional development, our platform is designed to provide scalable, differentiated, and embedded learning that sustains wellbeing and best practices over the school year, not just in one motivational push in August.

We’re here to support adult wellbeing and adult learning with embedding the science of burnout prevention in our platform. That means we’re not expecting educators to use their already scarce free time to try to watch all the content (and good luck with that, we’re like the “Netflix of Thriving”–you’ll actually never find the end of our content!)

The goal is not 100% completion of all content, it’s for educators to find a “binge-worthy” channel that will give them real-time practical solutions that only take between 5-20 minutes to learn.

With over 30 school districts already on board, we are learning every day about how to embed the Thriving Students platform IN the day, not as a big ol’ add ON to busy days. Our platform is being folded into existing meetings and schedules, saving leaders precious time and energy. The “press play” PD modality gives leaders high quality content without any planning or prep (or bamboo to water).

If you’d like more information about bringing the Thriving Students Platform to your school or district, CLICK HERE to connect with us!

A Moment of Ed Tech Gratitude

Part of my new identity as an “ed tech” startup founder is that I get to attend cool ed tech events and listen to smart people doing amazing things with tech for students and staff in K12 education.

Back in 2022, an avid ed tech supporter, NewSchools selected Thriving Students as a grantee to support families of students with disabilities. This gave us support at just the right time to change our trajectory as a company from a small online course provider to who we are today. Our amazing CEO, Sarah Hauser and I are forever grateful for their support!

Since then, we’ve had the joy of connecting with my fellow grantees in the Learning Differences portfolio. We all got to reconnect last month at New Schools Summit. I missed the group photo, but not to worry, I have #edtech skills and photoshopped myself in on the end. 😂

Adobe, please let me know if you need my photoshop skills.

Microhabit of the Month

Working in K–12 schools can be an emotional rollercoaster, with “crises du jour,” long to-do lists, and emotional triggers from the escalating behaviors and mental health needs of our students. We can also have glimmers of joy, fun, and breakthroughs with students that refuel our dedication to the work.

How can we tip the scale to notice the glimmers and reduce the impact of the triggers?

We can turn to what I love to geek out on–the science of positive psychology and micro-habits. These “too small to fail” habits that can be done during the crazy school day can make a huge difference in the overall wellbeing of our educators.

This micro-habit is brought to you by my 10-year-old daughter (with permission from her to share it with y’all).

The other morning, as I went to go wake her up, I overheard her very specific Alexa reminder from her bedroom: “Remember to draw a koala with a microphone.”

She bounded out of bed, grabbed a pen and paper, and drew this:

Alexa, please remind me to have some fun.

She had reminded herself to do something she loved to do. And this is now my new mission in life–to plan for some joy in the day! My daughter didn’t know it, but this small act of “pleasant activity scheduling” primes your brain for positivity and buffers you from stress and depression. So, for your micro-habit of the month, I invite you to tell your Alexa to remind you of your “koala with a microphone” task for each day!

Cringe TikTok of the Month

When AI creates the perfect song about burnout prevention for school psychologists, you have to create a music video. I think it’s a rule.

Click here to see my new AI-generated song, “A Heavy Load,” that my middle school daughter reviewed as, “PLEASE keep this in drafts.”

It’s giving…less talented Beyoncé.

See you in July for the next Thrive Archive digest!

If you’re interested in being a part of the Thriving Students Collective community and would like more information about how to bring the Thriving Students Platform to your school or district, CLICK HERE to connect with us.

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Dr. Rebecca Branstetter is a school psychologist and co-founder of The Thriving Students Collective, which provides professional development, engaging online courses, and a supportive online community that prioritizes whole-school wellness and equips educators and parents with practical tools to empower every learner’s success. She also has a TikTok account all about burnout prevention in K12 that her middle school daughter has endorsed as “Cringe, but good dancing.”

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