Ideas for Progress.....
The National Assessment for Educational Progress released it's full report this week about the academic losses in reading and math for students from the pandemic. The numbers are scary, especially for students of color. There is work to be done and everyone has an idea of how to fix the problem. As a classroom teacher for 30 years, I know this for sure- there is not a single initiative in education that will help our students get back to where they should be. I believe the answer lies in addressing the root problems created by the pandemic.
Make schools a safe place for students physically and emotionally. Students should not have to wonder if they are going to be physically attacked, whether that be from other students, teachers or crazed shooters. Students should be able to be their true selves at school. This will require the adults, both in and out of schools, to stop judging and start hearing other perspectives, to move past their implicit biases and look at students as more then one story. On their own, religion, sexual preference, identity, socioeconomic status, and race don't define an individual, they are part of a bigger picture.
Bring back the joy. I wrote about this in a previous week, but it is vital to moving forward and making gains. Students AND teachers must see school as a place of joy. Bring the fun back into learning and the academic gains will follow.
Value teachers as professional educators. At the beginning of the pandemic, teachers were the heroes, pivoting their teaching to online mode overnight. Now district officials who haven't been in the classroom in years and the general public, who haven't ever been in the classroom think they know how to teach better than the teachers. Teachers are the constant in the classroom and they know how to improve education. SO ASK THEM! Not being valued as a professional educator is one of the top reasons for teachers leaving the profession.
Teachers, you need to take care of yourself before you can take care of others. I was reminded of this in a Einstein Fellow PD we just had about Social Emotional Learning (SEL). It was an incredible PD where several fellows shared very personal feelings and experiences and I have a greater appreciation of the need for SEL to be incorporated into our schools.
So I took care of my mental health this weekend- my heart was full!