Covid19 found its way into our American lives and consciousness early in the year 2020. Soon after it made its way into our American public schools. It came with disastrous effects for some educators and school related staff. Moreover, it came with nationwide disconnection and adverse impact on children’s development and learning. This effect lingers today even as school systems and the people that inhabit them struggle to learn, collaborate, innovate, and recover. Everything is truly messed up.
There are a few children and families who are doing well on these fronts. There are more children and families who are demonstrating resilience and doing ok. They miss many things about their former school life and environments but they are doing ok. There are many, many more children that are just surviving in terms of their development and learning. Distance learning and covid19 has messed up what we as educators do with and for these children. In this sense, everything’s messed up. What we once did, we don’t do much of these days.
So what are we to do ? We educators… We parents… We citizens…
First, we try to keep our educators and families and communities safe from covid19.
Then, we focus on learning.
We admit and be transparent about the problems that currently face us and we try hard to learn to solve the problems and improve our results.
Since early in 2020, the Rio School District has focused on connecting, engaging to learn, and improving the learning. These three simple sets of words to say are great challenges that matter. March to June we patched a damaged ship. Now we need to build a ship. We need to build a better ship than we hobbled together that past school year and we need to build a ship that will improve and meet the needs of every child during and beyond the long period that covid19 will affect us.
Connecting in these covid19 times means many things.
Engaging to learn means many things.
Improving learning is improving learning.
Connecting means connecting kids online with computers, internet service, hotspots, technical support, troubleshooting skills and effectiveness.
Connecting means connecting people emotionally and culturally.
Connecting means making connections between child, family, school and community.
Connecting means many things.
Engaging to learn brings to mind the word “engagement.” We have different ways of thinking of the word engagement. Educational research defines it in various ways. As teachers and students we know it when we see it. We see it on faces, in body language, in discourse, and in the artifacts students create during the learning activities we construct.
What we can do in these covid19 times when most children are relegated to distance learning is to get better at helping children learn in these contexts while we all wait for the coronavirus pandemic to be problem-solved by human society. Our problem in schools is the adversely impacted learning and wellbeing of children.