COVID has changed the world in multiple ways, arguably making education move forward in terms of accessible distance learning options for students. Many school staff members are starting to navigate through the potential knowledge losses in order to prepare for the 2021-2022 school year. Here are some ways that schools can prepare and address those learning gaps from this crisis.
- Plan for a longer time-frame than local governments are giving- Through all of the information changing regularly, you will not know when it will be safe to “go back”. Plan for a longer time than necessary, and take into consideration that the time frame will change.
- Avoid assumptions about distance learning and student progress- During this time, it’s hard to get a glance into what students are working on and how diligently they are learning. No matter how much teachers are checking in, there is no way to tell if learning is regularly taking place.
- Build your “village”- Reaching out to your community, parents, and families is a good way to build student resources. Since they are the front lines for student learning, allowing them to regularly be in the loop and have input will give you more information on things that are going on in the homes of your students.
- Acknowledge the crisis as an emotional need- Any school administrator would tell you that learning starts with love. As you plan for next year, you may want to consider social and emotional learning lessons to ensure that students have been able to cope with the crisis.
- Extend learning opportunities- When school re-open, it may be a good time to focus on extended extra-curricular activities and focusing on social skills that may have been lost during this time.
- Provide targeted professional development for staff- During the time of distance learning, you have the opportunity to focus on targeted professional development for new programs and systems at your school. Use meetings to get a feel for what your teachers need to be supported when students come back. You could focus on differentiation or other topics that may have not been able to be addressed during the school year.
- Monitor progress as often as possible- Distance learning poses a lot of technical issues for students, families, teachers and administrators. When school is back in regular session, it will provide the opportunity to monitor student progress more regularly. If teachers were monitoring monthly, you may ask them to monitor weekly until they understand how behind (or ahead) students may be.
- Focus on personalized learning- With distance learning on the forefront of education, personalized education is more attainable than ever. Review your curriculum and see where students can take control of their learning with the help of technology and programs designed for student autonomy.