The phrase “learning loss” came under criticism shortly after it started being used to describe what students experienced as a result of remote and hybrid learning during the last 18 months. With the pandemic already exacerbating a long list of educational inequities, the thinking goes, the last thing kids need is to be told they have lost something that it was not in their power to gain. I’m among those who think the phrase “learning loss,” along with its purported solution, “remediation,” can cause more problems than they solve. They epitomize deficit thinking, which can be perceived as accusatory by those on the receiving end—an impediment to engagement that can lead students and families to turn their backs on school. There’s also ample evidence that remediation is terrible at helping students learn and progress. This is why we’ve all been hearing about “accelerating learning” lately.
Our expert researchers, evaluators, and veteran educators synthesize information gleaned from our research and blend it with best practices gathered from schools and districts around the world to bring you insightful and practical ideas that support changing the odds of success for you and your students. By aligning practice with research, we mix professional wisdom with real world experience to bring you unexpectedly insightful and uncommonly practical ideas that offer ways to build student resiliency, close achievement gaps, implement retention strategies, prioritize improvement initiatives, build staff motivation, and interpret data and understand its impact.
As schools make plans to return to in-person instruction in the fall, many are having crucial conversations about how to best use their staff resources to support students. One of these conversations centers on how to use instructional coaches in the upcoming year. As many coaches are considered “teachers on special assignment” and occupy a teacher’s salary, school leaders have begun to ask if there are better uses for their coaches. But coaching is an investment that benefits the quality of teaching throughout an entire school or district.
Many of the challenges that schools face heading into 2021-22 are technical in nature; the organization already possesses the knowledge needed to solve them. Others, however, are “adaptive” challenges that will require entirely new ways of thinking, working, and leading . . . and lots of collaboration.
We have all been through a very difficult, traumatic year-plus. The transition back to in-person school this spring or in the fall is an important time to strengthen and forge relationships—to rebuild routines and rituals or make new ones to create a community at school. It is a critical opportunity for educators to address attendance in a meaningful way. Educators can provide clear structures and expectations that say, We want to see you every day and help students and families get back into a regular routine of showing up to class.
We often view damage—for example, in a car, home, or relationship—as something beyond repair. Or if repaired, it may never again be as good as new. Without a doubt, many students have experienced trauma during this pandemic. They may have been forced to move, gone hungry or faced food insecurity, watched helplessly as parents lost their jobs, seen relationships fray, and experienced their own raft of powerful emotions. Yet it’s important that we—and they—see that they need not be permanently damaged by these experiences, and I believe that social-emotional learning (SEL) can help accomplish this.
Certain outdated and disproven ideas in education really ought to die but never seem to get around to it. McREL CEO Bryan Goodwin explains why we should be afraid, very afraid, of some concepts that still walk the earth in his Research Matters column for the May 2021 edition of ASCD’s Educational Leadership magazine.
At long last, the end of the pandemic may finally be in sight. As of this writing, COVID-19 is not yet behind us, but we can at least see some breaks in the clouds, so to speak. Vaccines are now widely available, infection rates are dropping in many places, and more schools are back to in-person learning—or planning now to be back next school year. Soon, we will re-emerge from the pandemic and, like after any storm, we’ll begin to survey the aftermath. In an upcoming series of blog posts, we’ll explore some key areas educators should consider as they return to in-person teaching and learning—sharing insights from research and our positive approach to help you see and build on spots in your own schools and classrooms.