As educators in the US enter their classrooms for a new school year, one that is still somewhat uncertain due to concerns about new variants of COVID and how to bring students back to school from safe way, many bring with them new strategies, tools and practices.
While COVID presented educators with a myriad of challenges, it also prompted many to discover new ways to teach, lead, and inspire. In fact, many educators are starting this new school year with so-called “COVID learning practices” – tools, mindsets, and strategies they never used or knew about until COVID laid hands on them.
An important lesson, possibly the most important? Learning cannot go back to being before COVID.
“I joke that it took a pandemic for us to implement 21st century learning. I almost feel like there’s a growing mentality to say, ‘Okay, now that we’re getting over the pandemic, let’s go back to the old,’ and I think it has to be a combination, “says Dr. Jeff Gorman. Deputy Superintendent of Schools in the Mount Vernon City School District (MVCSD) of New York. “And if not, we have missed an incredible lesson. I would be very sad to see him lost and wasted. “
MVCSD was one of the first districts in the nation to be affected when COVID began its rapid spread, and as a new school year approaches, Gorman says the district is moving forward with some valuable lessons after a year and a half of learning. pandemic. A big part of that is combining successful pre-pandemic learning strategies with lessons learned during COVID.
“I think what has to happen is that we have to model a combination of this mix,” Gorman said. “We have to have critical conversations with people so that they process and understand that many of these practices should have been, and could have been in place years and years ago.”
For many, COVID brought with it the opportunity to advance learning beyond what has “always been done.” Going back to pre-pandemic practices will miss out on valuable learning opportunities.
Here are some of the COVID learning practices and mindsets that MVCSD educators will take with them this fall:
1. Combine professional development when possible. During MVCSD’s year-long professional development series, teachers have 2.5 days in which they can choose professional learning opportunities based on goals and needs within their buildings. Most are taught by the district’s own teachers and educators, while some are taught by providers. Rather than putting everyone in one building for the traditional “go get professional learning,” the district will deliver content in the morning and then set up individual or small group meetings with those in need in the afternoon. Learning can be asynchronous, and at the end of the first day, teachers will take their results, compile them into a plan to implement, and meet again on the second day to share them.