School will not be the same as it was a year ago. Covid-19 has made long-lasting impacts on how K-12 administrators and instructors approach teaching their students. In some cases, the disruption was for the better, and for some, it was for the worst. This week, I attended two insightful webinars on this topic hosted by the Boston EdTech Foundation and Cooley. Speakers from both sessions covered similar points about Covid-19’s impact on K-12 educators. Here are the highlights:
1. School administrators need to bring teachers together and involve them in planning. They need to work together to define the learning culture for the school, which will inform tech infrastructure, learning design, and assessment policies.
2. Online learning is not going away. For some districts, online learning will provide opportunities to students who can’t join in-person or want a hybrid learning experience to better prepare for college. Online learning has driven students to be more independent and self-directed than before.
3. Teachers will need to strengthen how to apply online learning to the classroom in helpful and creative ways. Families are more open to online learning and their expectations are high, so teachers can’t just rely on online lectures. They need to find ways to use technology to its advantage to get students engaged and learning in new ways.
4. Professional development for teachers will be an imperative directed more by districts and administration than in the past. Covid-19 exposed how unprepared schools were for teaching with technology so it will be important to keep teacher's skills up-to-date.
5. We know that the pandemic has caused a learning gap for students, but there is no hard data at the national level about its impact. Direction from national, state, or district-wide administration needs to be provided on how to close the gap and how teachers should be deciding on topics they need to cover in their lessons, knowing that they can’t cover it all teaching remotely.
6. The workforce beyond education has shifted. Many industries and companies will continue to work remotely or hybrid and school staff and teachers will expect the same as members of the workforce. Schools as employers will need to figure out how to provide flexibility and remote options where it makes sense in order to reduce employee attrition.
7. The connection and engagement between schools and parents has transformed. For parents who have been home, they have seen first-hand what their children’s learning is like. For essential worker parents who haven’t been home, schools have had to figure out how to get in touch with parents to make sure their kids log-in remotely. Now that these school-to-parent connections have been made, communication will continue.
8. The academic calendar will look different. For some schools in the Northeast that had a snow storm this week, the pandemic has ended “snow days,” replaced by “remote learning days.” Schools are also talking more about year-round schedules in the future.