To date, about half of American students are still learning virtually. Some teachers have received their vaccines but others are uncertain about when they will be vaccinated. Some are ready to go back now albeit with masks and socially distancing; some are holding tight. Some teachers’ unions are fighting efforts to return their members to crowded hallways; some are keeping their fingers crossed and going back. The issues to balance are unprecedented… should we or shouldn’t we go back to school? Some school administrators, city politicians, and parents feel the profound pressure to open schools, especially for those students who struggle academically and/or emotionally. Some are committed to waiting until some semblance of normalcy can return. But, when will that happen? Everyone wants the school community to be safe... we just all want to know when we can expect that to happen.
Schools will safely re-open eventually. I wish that were the only issue… ensuring that the school community is vaccinated against this deadly disease. That’s only one part of the equation. We are, thankfully, moving towards vaccinating everyone who wants a vaccine. And, vaccines for our teenagers are on the horizon as well.
What about our new learnings? What have we learned about our leaders, e.g., school, societal, political, religious, etc., and their commitment to change and the preparation needed to ensure that learning takes place regardless of the venue? Where is our guarantee that, “… model of education is the one that will best serve both our children and young people, as well as the educators who work with them: an education system that focuses on learning culture and nurturing of individual skills, knowledge, talents, interests and dispositions rather than being a factory standardized knowledge” (Jim Knight, Educate for Change, LinkedIn.com). And he continues, “… we need to rethink how we educate and ‘grow’ our children, especially as we come through and beyond Covid-19.”
We know there will be some learning loss so how will we address that? Do we start the year with the assumption that our students won't know "that" and immediately ignore what they have learned? Or, will we plan to start the year on the grade level the year reflects and then differentiate our work to address the multiple skill levels our students will demonstrate?
How will we be prepared for the future?
Where will you be?