None of us really knows what school will look like come August/September. We can speculate, we can pray, we can research and ask questions, but the truth is no one truly will know until we see the effects of coming out of quarantine.
I have heard many ideas about how to handle this uncertainty. Some teachers are just “taking a time out.” Who can blame them? 2020, so far, has been really, really tough. I think everyone needs to catch their breath.
Some teachers are preparing based on what their district’s “best guess” is. For MANY, that is some sort of blended experience. That means you will need traditional, printed materials (that do not involve too much collaborative learning and interaction; BOO!) as well as digital resources that you can assign for students to complete at home without needing to print anything out.
And, as much as teachers are trying to prepare and get “ready” for next year, the students are doing the very same thing. Many of our kids are feeling confused and anxious about what the next school year will bring. There are likely things that they truly enjoyed about distance learning, and then there are things that were truly a struggle for them. Understanding how your kids handled and processed the past 3-4 months is critical and should be a big part of your planning for the upcoming school year.
I put together a short survey you can give your students to get a better feel of what they liked and what they did not. Download it by clicking the below (no email require!!)
Free Student Survey
But, here is the critical part of this process. When you get the answers back, take some time to really think about the deeper meaning behind their likes and dislikes. For example, if your student answers that he really liked being in his pajamas all day, ask yourself “WHY?” Was the material less itchy and uncomfortable? Was the elastic waistband more comfortable or made it easier to go the bathroom? What if the act of having to get dressed in the morning is just too jarring and unsettling? Staying in pajamas and not having to get dressed may have made it easier for him to focus and get his work done.
So, why put in the effort for this extra step? Because if we understand the real reasons, perhaps we can replicate those positive experiences and eliminate or minimize those negative ones. If nothing else came out of the last 3-4 months, we at least learned that school, teaching and learning can look TOTALLY different than anything we imagined in the past. We also learned that teachers are some of the most flexible, versatile and creative people out there.
If anyone can recreate an environment that maximizes likes and minimizes dislikes, it is a teacher. Take that survey information and see what you can do to tweak your plans for next year to incorporate how your students are telling you they learn best. Think outside the box. Keep a totally open mind and spirit.
Make the 2020-2021 school year the best you have ever experienced. There is really no good reason not to given all we have learned.
In an effort to help teachers prepare for next year, I have put together a short survey. It will take less than 3 minutes to complete, and will help me make the resources that will work the best with your current thoughts about next year.