A New Normal in Education?

Much is on the table about what “learning” will look like in the coming school year and beyond. No doubt, educators have faced a steep learning curve while operating virtual classrooms from home following closures across the country, across the world!

The delivery of effective and meaningful education has always been a topic in the profession, prompting constant change (and sometimes improvement) to how we reach students across the board. So, the Covid-19 crisis is but another bump in the road for our schools. How will it permanently scar or innovate the process of supporting our young people with academic proficiency and social/emotional health? Adversity and opportunity beckon our attention here.

The fact is there are more questions than answers at this point. However, we have learned much in these past few months. Aside from how to corral and gather our students on a computer screen, we are holding discussions, offering audio & visual learning aids, and tapping into internet reading platforms for independent practice, to name a few. The online resources are out there and were quite familiar to many before the school closures.

What can the family learn from these events? Quite a lot, it is said. With a little guidance from teachers, counselors, librarians, and instructional aids, families are learning to help their children take stock in planning their own daily routines. Setting up a schedule of independent practice, reading, math, and other forms of study … while balancing that with healthy play.

Will this become the new normal? Maybe. Or some portion of it will.

Success in academics, emotional well-being, physical health, creativity, and strong skill sets for the workplace will largely rely on smart daily choices. If schools are closed for extended periods, or open on limited rotations, students and families who make an effort to choose balanced and constructive days will enjoy relative success. It happens across all age, race, gender, and income ranges, around the world! True, disadvantaged populations remain at a higher risk of struggling toward success. Yet we see where resourcefulness and self-discipline are modeled at home and made a priority, student progress is to be had.

The new normal? The strong shall survive! It is a fact of living and one we must hold on to with a generous serving of Hope.

Reliance on our friendships and the many educators who care about us is essential. While teachers and staff are not as present in our living and breathing spaces, they can offer quality advice and ideas for learning at home. A few basic methods come to mind:

  1. Keep a list of new spelling words from books you are reading at home. Study and self-test. Repeat weekly.
  2. Copy text from books you are reading and read aloud to an adult to see how accurate your work is. Habits of capitalizing, punctuation and correct spelling naturally come into play here.
  3. Write (fiction and non) in a journal or notebook daily… or in a Word document. Write and send paper letters to elders in your family. They are lonely while shut in.
  4. Make up some of your own word problems with computations at your level. Examples (37 x 6) or (256/8).
  5. Do the homework your teacher assigns. Share it with a classmate. Take pride in your work. Ask yourself how its content can improve your skill set.
  6. Read daily. Talk about what your read with an adult. Watch documentaries that interest you. Share what you learn through writing and conversation.

This lists can go on. The new normal is in some ways very different. In other ways, it has not changed in decades. The strong shall learn, survive, grow, thrive. Be one of them!