Coming Back to School After Covid (Part 1)
We all know that the pre-Covid way of existing (methods and behaviors) are a thing of the past. As we prepare for the upcoming school year, we must evolve our systems and processes to meet the ever-changing circumstances of the pandemic’s effects on our educators and students once again.
What will “normal” look like going forward in our nation’s K-12 schools?
In this webinar with Academy for Urban School Leadership’s (AUSL) Director of Program Design, Advisory Services, Shelby Hildreth says you should go back to the basics and hone in on what matters because the bells and whistles don’t serve student learning. Practicing standards with your planning and content is key with the even more limited time that teachers have. Zoom has been so much less forgiving than in-person learning because of the limitations, so it’s time to really focus on what matters as we re-enter the classroom. According to Hildreth, you should:
- Re-assess and set expectations on technology being used in the new year. What tools from last year should stay, and which ones can you go without?
- Go virtual with your lesson plans. Ensure your teachers have an online platform to submit ahead of time to allow for feedback.
- Hold “team planning times” for teachers to understand the content they need to relay to students—teach the teachers.
- Shift from passive to active, cognitive learning. Don’t just focus on compliance-based engagements, like following class rules. Instead, try engaging students with meaningful, thought-provoking content.
How do we assess students’ current status?
This is the question weighing heavily on many educators’ minds now. Effectively evaluating each student’s current status after a year or more of inconsistent or varying instruction methods is the metaphorical Goliath in the K-12 education system for next year. Here are some tips based on Hildreth’s webinar discussion:
- Plan for a formative assessment with stakeholders to craft a clear vision of the assessment’s core purpose. What are you assessing for? What are the post-secondary pathways for your students? Answer these questions, then choose metrics based on goals.
- Use online coaching tools to establish and communicate a plan to teachers with insights. Support your staff with frequent observation, better feedback, and coherent coaching plans with actionable follow-ups. As stated in the webinar, “teacher success depends on a clear picture of how they’re performing all the time.”
- Don’t make “learning loss” a crutch. Students have been learning; it just looks different. Students have continued their academic learnings and have also tackled many life skills, such as perseverance, throughout the last year. According to Hildreth, it’s time we “expand the definition of success.”
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