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In the Wake of School Closures, What Matters Most to Admins, Principals, Teachers, and Parents?

In the Wake of School Closures, What Matters Most to Admins, Principals, Teachers, and Parents?

Without a doubt, COVID-19 has impacted education at every level—affecting the decisions administrators are forced to make while in crisis mode and influencing the new skills parents are being tasked to adopt as both full-time caregivers and learning guides. As stakeholders estimate what education will look like both this summer and in the fall, there are critical priorities each audience holds top of mind. Let’s unpack primary concerns for administrators, principals, teachers, and parents during this challenging time and explore solutions to help navigate each crucial question.

District Administrators

Will my schools experience a drop in enrollment?
Administrators are always evaluating the impact that per-student funding has on daily operations, and they may already be anticipating that recent events could create some shake-up. Will parents be afraid to send their students back to school?

Identifying a Solution:
Solving for this problem requires careful planning at every level: fine tuning your master schedule; providing clean places to learn; and then, of course, there’s the actual learning! Make sure that you have identified program partners who are skilled in providing academic continuity through meaningful and effective instruction.

What will students be ready to learn?
Educators must prepare for the fact that, when students do return to school, there will be increased diversity in the knowledge base for students—that is to say, learning loss during this tumultuous time may have deepened the achievement gap.

Identifying a Solution:
Some students will receive constant support from parents and caregivers throughout school closures, while others may fall victim to the “COVID-19 slide.” Programs that use an adaptive assessment to uncover gaps in learning, even outside of a student’s given grade level, can be critical tools to provide personalized support and inform teacher-directed instruction.

Do my teachers have the tools to be effective distance learning instructors?
This pandemic required many brick-and-mortar teachers to become virtual instructors overnight. This added stress has the potential to translate into teacher burnout and, even worse, teacher shortages. Supporting teachers as they pivot their instructional practice and become more agile facilitators in whatever comes next is paramount.

Identifying a Solution:
Under these circumstances, teachers need support in navigating technology and all of the best practices for virtual instruction that come alongside it. Administrators should look to partners who have years of experience in this area and even offer on-demand, self-paced professional development that encourages easy adoption of program knowledge.

School Principals & Other Leaders

Is my school prepared to mitigate the virtual implementation concerns we may have uncovered as a part of this overnight change?
This unprecedented situation has undoubtedly led to many lessons learned regarding distance learning rollout, teacher training, digital access, and student engagement practices to name a few. What have you learned from this situation that you’ll carry forward into this summer and fall?

Identifying a Solution:
As you and your staff navigate uncharted waters, make sure that you have a seasoned partner who can help you achieve excellence. With considerations such as professional development for teaching in a virtual setting and engagement practices that are powerful enough to carry beyond the four walls of your brick-and-mortar classroom, find partners who are ready to roll up their sleeves and help.

Will my students be able to close learning gaps and meet requirements for graduation?
School leaders are hyper-focused on ensuring that all students attain the learning requirements to earn a diploma, but in the face of tremendous gaps in learning and interruptions in credit-bearing courses, will all students meet the mark?

Identifying a Solution:
Under extraordinary circumstances, options to help students claw back credits quickly and flexibly may be required to help all learners find success. Consider a customizable courseware option that accounts for students’ baseline knowledge and ensures that they only have to complete the instructional modules that align to their needs.

Without summative testing this spring, how can I ensure that all students meet proficiency on spring 2021 state assessments?
Testing was scrapped this year for reasons we all understand, but the ripple effect does require some rethinking. How will educators know what instructional needs students have when fall learning resumes without that data as a guide?

Identifying a Solution:
Closing learning gaps that may far exceed on-grade-level learning requirements and also achieving standards mastery requires a two-pronged approach. Make sure that you have a partner who is helping you mitigate learning loss by focusing instruction at each student’s individual learning level to promote growth. Then, balance that work with focused, standards-based practice that ensures successful test preparation and grade-level proficiency.

Classroom Teachers

How can I overcome the concerns I have about my students’ individual deficiencies?
If you have students who aren’t engaged or perhaps who are lacking access to learning opportunities this semester, you may already be expecting a learning slide. How will the impacts of this situation affect how you teach in the fall?

Identifying a solution:
This fall, likely more than ever before, classroom teachers will be forced to mitigate learning loss and provide remediation based on the significantly different knowledge gaps identified for each student. Meet students where they are, provide just-in-time instruction, and leverage data to provide real-time support.

How can I improve my own professional practice under these conditions?
When COVID-19 spread quickly throughout this country, school doors shut swiftly and with little warning. Has all of this change left you with added stress and self-doubt in how to support virtual learning experiences for students?

Identifying a solution:
Really get to know the programs and tools that have become your allies during this time. Are there webinars you can attend for added training? Are there on-demand resources to help you navigate key features or expand your practice based on others’ successes? Seek out support options that help you work smarter, not harder.

Parents

How am I expected to successfully become a full-time learning guide in addition to the many other hats I wear?
The stresses of becoming your own child’s instructor quickly multiply when there are multiple children, different school expectations, and challenges with access to technology resources. Not to mention, there are added complications if you’re also trying to work a full-time job while you do it! As a society, we’ve never experienced challenges like this before, and we’re all learning as we go.

Identifying a solution:
Start by advocating for your child and for yourself. What expectations do you have for communication, scheduling, and access to learning materials? Are you partnering closely with your child’s teacher to work through these? Consider watching Edmentum’s webinar “Principles of Teaching at Home for more guidance on navigating this uncertain situation.

I don’t have visibility into my child’s learning needs, how can I help them succeed?
Lack of visibility into the support your child needs academically is only amplified when you’re asked to also take on a number of new teaching duties. How can you know where to focus their time and attention without helpful guidance on the strengths and weaknesses exposed in their work to date?

Identifying a solution:
Partner with your child’s teacher to get access to the data you need to help get a complete picture of your child’s strengths and needs. If your child is using a digital program as part of their learning, there are likely detailed reports that can help shed light on these critical questions.

If you’re looking for more information on virtual teaching and distance learning success, check out our e-learning resource hub for webinars, planning guides, free printables, and access to our proven programs.

madison.michell's picture

Madison Michell has been a member of the Edmentum team since 2014 and currently serves as a Marketing Manager. As a former Kindergarten and 3rd grade teacher during her time as a Teach For America corps member, she believes education truly has the power to transform lives. She is passionate about connecting educators with online programs, best practices, and research that improve teaching and learning for today's students.