As a consequence of the pandemic, the past school year was far from ideal for most teachers and students. This unprecedented event forced everyone to learn new skills and adapt quickly to changing requirements. As students return to their classrooms, let’s try to keep the strategies that worked, stop using those that didn’t, and start new initiatives to improve the learning experience next year and beyond. Here are five takeaways from the past school year that we should consider continuing in the future.
Continue to Reinforce Communication
When the pandemic began, we all shifted to a virtual setting, making regular contact with families a crucial part of the learning experience. It’s important to continue to keep students and their families informed, and as educators, you may choose to implement practices that enable the strengthening of relationships with families. Communication might be through a classroom website, a newsletter, or a phone call – but whatever communication route you choose, it’s vital to keep everyone informed about what to expect in the classroom.
Promote Self-Care and Relationship Building
The classroom has been forced to go beyond brick and mortar with virtual learning that takes place on a computer screen. A typical learning day might include a visit onscreen by a family pet or a young sibling wishing to chime in on the school day. This environment brought a high degree of uncertainty and stress for teachers, students, and family members. Something that many teachers began talking about with their students is managing their mental health by taking time for self-care and learning about the importance of community during stressful times. This is a trend that benefits everyone involved, and we hope to see an emphasis on self-care and community involvement continue.
Being in Person Makes a Difference
COVID-19 forced everyone to meet and connect in virtual settings. While many virtual functions (like breakout rooms and recording your lessons) can help with classroom activities, it’s tough for students to connect through a screen. Many students had a hard time focusing and staying engaged during online learning because of a wide range of circumstances. An important takeaway from this past school year is that being in the classroom is helpful for students and gives everyone an equal opportunity for learning and participation.
One Size Doesn’t Fit All
Ensuring students get what they need in class is crucial, whether you’re in a virtual environment or a physical classroom. Some tactics will work for students and not work for others. It’s important to keep in mind that allowing kids to access learning in a way that works well for them will help them be more successful. As we shift back to in-person learning, let’s remember the things that worked from virtual learning and bring them into the classroom. Technology can still help your students create, interact, and collaborate in positive ways.
Continue to Teach in Class and Virtually
The flipped classrooms that were a product of the pandemic gave students time to implement skills while in class and taught them to prepare for class independently. Skills such as learning how to use email and video conferencing, maintaining an organized inbox, or using shortcuts on Google, will benefit students now and in the future when they transition to higher learning.
Bonus: Don’t Be Afraid to Lose What Didn’t Work
Don’t feel pressure to keep doing all of the things that were necessary during virtual learning. If you struggled during this past school year, you’re not alone. Many students and teachers had trouble adapting lessons and projects to a virtual world. You know what works for your classroom, and you’re allowed to pick and choose the best parts of in-person and virtual learning and discard the parts that don’t work for your students and teaching style.
Arbor Associates can help you find education work that is satisfying and helps you reach your career goals. Check us out today!