What is the future of post-pandemic learning?
The 2020-2021 school year taught teachers and students across the country invaluable lessons that were not found in any curriculum. The COVID-19 pandemic transformed the way that teachers interact with colleagues, students and families and exposed our country’s educational inequities.
Fortunately, with a steady decline in new COVID-19 cases and the introduction of vaccines, teachers, students, and families can begin to flirt with the possibility of post-pandemic learning.
How teachers can ensure a safe learning environment
As we prepare for post-pandemic learning, we must exercise caution. While the country is beginning to heal from the COVID-19 pandemic, the reality is that people are still suffering from sickness and fighting for their lives.
With this in mind, teachers should demonstrate flexibility with student absences as a result of quarantining, illness, and caring for affected family members. For example, teachers may need to make their in-person instruction and activities accessible in an online format for students who have interruptions in regular attendance. Additionally, teachers must continue to make an effort to ensure social distancing and promote the practice of good hygiene.
Teachers must be also mindful of the emotional toll that the pandemic has had (and may continue to have) on our students’ mental health. In our return, conversations about trauma must be welcome in the classroom.
The positives of returning to the classroom
We should also be incredibly optimistic about returning to face-to-face instruction under safe conditions. Educators who have participated in fully virtual or hybrid learning formats recognize the inherent challenges that come with these models for many students across the nation. While I believe that technology has significantly improved teaching and learning, remote learning can create barriers to success for students who are economically disadvantaged or have varying exceptionalities.
As we return to campus in the upcoming school year, we can rest assured in knowing that our students will be safe under our care.
- We will ensure that every student is equipped with the resources necessary for their success.
- We will be able to monitor their engagement and time-on-task in ways that our technology did not always allow.
- We will be able to conduct differentiated small-group instruction and offer immediate, individual feedback to students.
- We will be able to monitor student progress to detect learning gaps before submitting a product.
- We will be able to incentivize behavior and reward students for exceeding our expectations.
- We will promote social learning that relies on direct, in-person interactions and foster meaningful relationships.
We learned how to lead without fear. We embraced the challenges that were thrown our way. We accepted the charge to do the unthinkable in order to achieve what we believed was impossible. We have done it before and we will do it again.
The new school year will bring a fresh opportunity to push ourselves and our students to new heights despite the tumultuous journey of the past.