Lessons Learned in 2020

Greetings,

As the holiday season arrives, we wanted to salute the persistence, stamina, and amazing teaching as well as the caring you have offered your students and their families in this terrible time. American educators are right up there for gratitude with health care workers. 

Seeing the vaccine come down the road may allow a little relaxation and optimism over the holiday break. We wish that for you all. Perhaps by spring, schedules and precautions may start to resemble pre-Covid conditions. As we catch our breath, one wonders what changes and innovations from this period we should incorporate into the “new normal” to come.

During this fall /winter we have had many conversations with teachers and administrators about that question - what changes forced by the pandemic turned out to be good? Which of them should we reinforce and continue when we get the kids back and resume pre-pandemic schedules? Here are answers we have heard over and over again from the field.

Covid-induced trends we should continue: 

  • Small Groups: Less total group instruction and more small group instruction. 
  • Include Everyone: Paraprofessionals attend common planning time meetings and play more of an instructional role in classroom life. 
  • Flipped Classroom: More use of “flipped classroom” technology and reshuffling time so we maximize synchronous time when teacher and students are together for talk, processing, identifying and clearing up confusions and misconceptions. Therefore, input of instruction to students for new material is done more asynchronously through videos, reading and exercises, meaningful projects. 
  • Empower Students: Teaching students directly the roles and skills for effective group interaction so that students have protocols and guidelines to follow in breakout rooms. Practice with the students and visit breakout rooms to give them feedback on group effectiveness… or have them self-evaluate. 
  • Common Planning Time Teams: CPTs have been operating with deeper levels of collaboration, forced first by desperation last spring, and now from seeing the fruits of that collaboration. During times with hybrid scheduling, these benefits continue to unite teachers and classrooms for activities such as: planning content for the week, aligning assignments and criteria for success in common for all of us for the week and for all students taking a given course or at a common grade level, making up quizzes they administer in common.
  • Plan Together: More emphasis on creating academic tasks together in planning teams that students find meaningful 
  • Build Relationships: (read Jon Saphier's blog on Personal Relationship Building here.)
  • Between students: more creative and recurring activities that cause the students to learn about one another and build relationships
  • With Students: More vehicles for us to use to learn about our students, their interests, their lives.

 Some of our webinars last spring focused on these. We invite you to check them out on our website at http://rbteach.com/webinar-series.

All our best to you for a warm, safe, family-centered period in the holiday week ahead from,All of us at RBT