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[Educator Network] Skills Students Should Keep This School Year

[Educator Network] Skills Students Should Keep This School Year

As for everything there is a balance. Finding the right balance of technology and face to face instruction should be the battle cry for educators. Students and educators have spent a long time learning new skills and education should be about applying those skills in a balanced productive way. There are competencies that every learner and educator have mastered, and these skills are worth carrying back to the physical classroom.

What have students learned that can carry over? What are the skills we should be capitalizing on? How do these practiced proficiency translate into your classroom this year?

1. Self-reliance and resiliency

These are learners who have been faced with challenges not previously imagined. Those that have been able to work through the chaos and the uncertainty, who have logged-in, learned skills that would likely never have been tested in a traditional classroom. Give them credit and build on this. This also means that educators must streamline information and provide support for parents in a way that makes sense to the grown-ups and students.

2. Flexibility

Navigating a new routine, learning and teaching new technology skills, and finding a way to explore learning from a completely new lens, is all very cool. Without the time constraints, students can engage in more independent learning and research, and grow increasingly passionate about their schoolwork. This is what educators strive for and what learners have found working independently and flexibility.

3. Time Management

With the classroom looking so very different, it has become the responsibility of some students to complete their work without traditional supervision. Successful students have found their learning time may look different than the traditional school day. Some learners found time management easy and created a routine for themselves that allowed them to keep up with their studies. Some students became more productive. However, distance learning took away some of the social learning aspect of a face-to-face school experience. Some students struggled with organization or managing their feelings or time effectively. It may also be difficult for students to stay focused in a rapidly changing environment. How can we better teach students to be successful at time management, and help them build a system that works for them not only at school, but also one that they can take with them into adulthood?

 4. Efficiency

Student and teachers have found flexibility to the school day. While many students and educators found it difficult to stay focused, and video meeting burnout is real, changing what the school day looked like has open the possibility to cultivating skills they never had time to nurture. They have found ways to make the most of the full hours in a day and learning to be productive in a timely manner is a valuable skill. Can we reimagine what happens in the school day to encourage the use of this flexibility and efficiency? Returning to a face-to-face classroom should not delete this newfound dexterity.

5. Collaborative Ingenuity

Multi-player games provided relief to students isolated. We have seen that the remote learning and teaching has driven everyone to become better at communication and interpersonal skills—both of which are critical for success.

6. Technological Mastery

Assuming we have gotten laptops to every student, (and that is a big assumption) there has been the opportunity of students to learn, demonstrate and teach technology skills previously not expected. There has been an acceleration in the digital transformation of the classroom. As educators, we are limited by our imagination, not theirs. Equity is the biggest obstacle in learning online, but districts have been scrambling to level the playing field. Providing Wi-Fi to students and educators is viewed as a necessity like power and water. Online learning has also presented a great opportunity to review digital etiquette and embed digital citizenship into online collaboration activities.

7. Emotional Flexibility

This may not be part of the silver lining, but it is something that educators should be cognizant of. The long-term uncertainty must play on the emotional wellbeing of students and the process of learning.

8. Scientific Process in Real Time

These students were able to see the process in action. As the CDC learned and shared their findings, action was taken. The power of a global pandemic on the scientific community and then on the community at large was on TV every night. Students could not help but be a critical tool in the conversation of how to address the concerns of the global community.

During the past year, students have learned how to prioritize. Caregivers have found a balance between providing support and encouraging independence. Educators have discovered the strength of technology and the need for explicit, clear, and flexible instruction. There is a balance that can be found that exploits these new skills and supports learning in new and exciting ways.

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Winnie O'Leary

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.