2020 has been a bumpy ride for everyone, especially for our teachers, school staff, and students. Between the sudden shift to remote learning in the spring, a summer spent stressing about protocols and procedures, and an uneasy and ever-changing fall semester, they’re drained and left curious, about what 2021 will have in store for them.
But if this past year has taught us anything, it’s that our teachers and educators are strong and will adapt to any environment, that the new year may bring, for the sake of their students.
That being said, over the course of the past year, teachers have learned many valuable lessons that they are bringing with them to help guide their classrooms in 2021.
Here are a few you can take into the new year too.
1. Combine Your Learning Method With Student Needs –. Remote learning students don’t just need time learning their lessons, students (especially those at young ages) need to spend time with children their own age and connect with them to grow socially. To help guide this process many teachers have changed up their lesson planning to help incorporate more engaging activities. Some have even started opening their classrooms early, so students have the chance to mingle, virtually spend time with their peers, and feel a sense of belonging.
2. Mental Health is Key – We’re all going through a public health crisis together, and students are going through it too. Anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions are all spiking. Now more than ever, it’s important to make sure your, and your student’s, mental health a top priority. Be sure to make checking in on your student’s mental health a priority (whether we like it or not, educators play the dual role of teacher and counselor). And if you are personally struggling, reach out to someone or seek help from a professional. It’s okay to not be okay.
3. Engage with Parents – With virtual learning parents are playing an active role in helping their children learn their lessons. Although it’s much harder, teachers are doing all they can to make sure each child is taken care of. However, if a child doesn’t understand their homework and they are not asking questions, their teacher isn’t just a hand raise away anymore. So the child turns to their parents for help. Parents have played such a large role in their child’s education this past year, so it’s important to continue to check in with them about how their children are doing, listen to concerns, and let them know what they can do to help their children continue to succeed during this time.
4. Technology Gaps Exist and You Can Help – For some communities, the rapid shift to online learning has highlighted the gap in digital accessibility, with some students not having access and falling behind. Is this a problem you can solve on your own? No. But as an educator, you can help voice the problems you’re seeing and advocate for your students.
5. Collaboration Can Yield Amazing Results– All throughout the pandemic teachers from all across the country have come together to create virtual learning resources and lesson plans to help support each other throughout the transition to remote learning. This has resulted in thousands of new creative ideas that ultimately benefit students and help them learn (like virtual field trips!). Collaborating virtually for lessons or projects with other teachers, organizations, coaches, librarians, etc., is possible and definitely worth taking advantage of.
6. Flexibility is a GOOD Thing – It’s not always so easy to be flexible, especially when you have a whole semester of lesson plans that need to be completed re-thought. But teaching during COVID-19 has really highlighted the importance of flexibility and creativity. From all-new learning environments to best strategies for engaging students, there’s been an explosion in innovation, new ideas, and discoveries. Adaptation, flexibility, and thinking-out-of-the-box are turning out to be pandemic era superpowers.
COVID-19 has impacted nearly every aspect of our lives and will forever change our society and communities. It’s no secret that that education may look very different in the future, and that thought can be unnerving, but teachers will continue doing what they do best. Energized and transformed by all we’ve learned in this past year of disruption, they will take their knowledge and find a way to continue touching the lives of their students and leading them to success.
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