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[Educator Network] Five Themes for Educators to Focus on This School Year

[Educator Network] Five Themes for Educators to Focus on This School Year

Discussions on trending issues in education has drastically changed in content since this time last year. October 2019 instructional concerns, as reviewed by TeachThought’s article contained 20 pedagogical issues in the forefront of educators’ brains for the upcoming calendar year. These are topics that educators had identified as areas of interest. They are thoughts to consider and explore in the upcoming year. The topics range from classroom consideration to national concerns. Oh, boy, did that change. In October of 2019 there was little thought on what a historic year 2020 would be for education.

According to the article, the top five issues of twenty topics that educators needed to be aware of and be following consisted of:

  1. Growth Mindset
    Is the idea that though dedication and hard work we can learn and do almost anything. That our basic abilities can be developed and improved. That we are limited only by what we think we are limited by.

  2. Maker Learning
    Is an approach to learning that uses problem-based and project-based learning. It often depends upon hands-on, and collaborative, learning experiences. The focus is teaching a method for solving authentic problem, empowering learners to own their learning by finding meaning in what and how they are studying.

  3. Bloom’s Taxonomy
    Refers to models of questioning and instruction that classify educational learning objectives into levels of complexity and specificity. This process is used to build content to maximize learning, understanding and application of that learning.

  4. Digital Citizenship
    Is instruction that focuses on the responsible use of technology and etiquette. This includes behaviors and responses to others and teaching the power of digital responsibility.

  5. Personal Learning
    Is the approach to customize learning that considers each student’s strengths, needs, skills and interests. It explores learning content in a unique manner for every child.

This list was built in a quieter time, a time when mobile learning (20th in significance) and blended learning (8th) were also of critical importance. We cannot talk about education in 2020 without accepting that these two topics are no longer a question but a reality. The lens we look at education has been profoundly altered. In conversation with educators, additions must be considered.

A cohort of Edmentum’s Educator Network reviewed this list, in a review of the year. The discussion with these educators from all over the country, explored what was on the initial list and what was missing. Here are some of the suggestions and additions that the list:

Equity
Clearly this is a topic that has been highlight. We have discussed resources, access and other critical entry to the digital world at length. Schools must and will find a solution to getting appropriate resources and concrete reliable tools to their students. Internet, hardware and appropriate software has moved from being a resource to a necessity.

Virtual Safety Procedures and Etiquette
As educators we are now invited into student’s homes through virtual and video meetings. Professionalism and etiquette are still the expectation for everyone while in class, but now we may have grown ups, siblings, pets, and other members of a home in the room with us now, which can sometimes lead to classroom distractions or disruptions that are out of a teacher’s control. Districts must consider how to handle classroom management as well as how to protect student privacy and safety while learning in a virtual environment. New safety procedures will likely be necessary for teachers and students who are distance learning, different practices than were in place in a traditional classroom. With more classrooms online, a clear idea from the district and educational departments on what best practices look like in online learning should be taught in higher education, districts, and classrooms.

Teaching with Empathy and Grace
Positive intention for teachers and students and districts has never been more important. SEL (social-emotional learning) continues to play a role as a part of educating and supporting the whole child. This has not changed, just moved up the list. How should districts share what they want to do and what they expect? How do we support the classroom teachers as they support families?

Cyberbullying
This may not be a new concern but addressing instances and working with social media giants to have hateful speech removed isn’t easy. Social media has its perks: it can be a great connector, informer, and even a good place for a laugh, but it’s got a dark side, too. A solution that is both fair and fast for removing harmful content should be easier. Working with authority figures, school counselors, and the media corporations should be simple and seamless.

Educator’s Grit
We all know the importance of working through the tough times, we can all do hard things, but not a lot of us thought it would be months and months and months. There is a fatigue with educators who have been moving from one type of classroom to another. The uncertainty creates stress and feelings of being overwhelmed. Educators need the tools to manage and support their social and emotional health and wellbeing.

The consensus of the Network conversation was articulated by Dr. Megan England, elementary and accountability supervisor from Claiborne County, Tennessee, who stated: “We can do hard things, who thought this would be 7 months?”

Education has been disrupted and there are things we are doing really well and things as a professional community we need to focus on getting better. We must continue to learn and stretch and support our students and the community we teach. This is not an exhausted list. Surely there are things that can be added to this list. Join the conversation by connecting with other educators in Edmentum’s Educator Network.

 

winnie.oleary's picture

Winnie O’Leary has spent over 25 years in education, as a classroom teacher, school board member, a family advocate, special education teacher, curriculum writer and currently a Curriculum Manager for Edmentum. Her experiences have allowed her to work with districts all over the country where she finds something new and exciting every day.