Superintendents and principals are starting to release their plans for the fall, ranging from remote learning to in-person instruction with safeguards and a hybrid model combining the two.
No matter what approach your school is using, there are sure to be unknowns and changes along the way. How can teachers adapt to the new, ever-changing expectations?
On July 8, the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) hosted an online panel titled, “Education Now: What Makes a High-Quality Remote or Hybrid Learning Experience?” Panelists, including Justin Reich, director of the MIT Teaching Systems Lab, HGSE Professor Jal Mehta, and Neema Avashia, a teacher at Boston Public Schools, discussed ways to ensure that schools help their students thrive in what is sure to be a challenging transition. Here are 3 takeaways.
Things have changed a lot in the past six months and it’s unlikely that we will be able to predict what learning will look like in another six months. Schools must plan to be flexible at every level, from scheduling to attendance. What will a teacher do if one of their students has to quarantine for a month? How can administrators shift if their families do not have the technology or childcare to engage with fully remote instruction? The answers to these questions may change as the year progresses.
Mehta offers one possible solution: plan for time to plan. He references one school in Colorado that switched to a four-day week, dedicating a full day to teacher collaboration. Schools should identify time where teams can come together to address the challenges they are facing and adapt accordingly.
Remote learning has radically shifted how teachers, students, parents, and administrators work together. One of the greatest challenges for many students and their parents has been the increased demands in terms of planning, tracking assignments, etc. Many students struggled to keep up, while parents were often frustrated by their inability to follow shifting schedules. Likewise, teachers were frustrated by a lack of connection to their students. If a student did not log in to a Zoom call or turn in an assignment, it was difficult to know why.
Setting up clear communication is going to be vital. Reich points out that clear lines of communication between the school and home will make sure students and parents understand the expectations and resources available. Acknowledging student and parent perspectives is also a tool for equity, giving voice to what is working and what is not.
Support Strong Relationships
Teachers need time and tools to make sure they can nurture relationships in their class (between students and between the teacher and the students). Ice breakers and games offer a way to start; however, Avashia explains that some flexibility is needed. For example, insisting that all students keep their cameras on all the time might backfire. If a student is feeling too vulnerable or exposed, they won’t be able to contribute to the class’s learning.
As you prepare for the reopening of school this fall, keep these three essentials in mind. At SMARTS, we are here to support teachers and their students with executive function strategies that can be implemented in-person and online. If you have any executive function questions, you know who to ask!
- Michael Greschler, M.Ed., SMARTS Director