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Teaching and Learning Post-COVID

by Lori Gracey

While none of us have a crystal ball that will show exactly what school will look like in the fall, it’s safe to assume that it will be different from what we’ve known in the past. Whether we are doing remote learning, blended learning, or modified face-to-face learning, there are some things that will have changed. And, to be honest, there are some things that should be changed.

What We Teach

We can all secretly admit, I hope, that our curriculum standards attempt to embrace all knowledge at the inch-deep level. In the past, we have taught everything to everyone, whether they will really need that information in the future or not. And in doing so, we have left out some of the most critical skills that all our students need. I think it’s those skills that came forward during the quarantine and, I hope, it’s those skills that we need to make sure we are strengthening in our future teaching.

I hope that all of us in the education field, whether it’s as a teacher or administrator, a librarian or a technician, an ed tech company or a non-profit association, can take this huge opportunity to have some frank discussions and even some deep reflection on the parts of teaching and learning that are effective and working, as well as on those pieces that don’t fit our modern world. And part of this thought process should embrace the things that the coronavirus taught us.

What the Virus Taught Us

Here’s my list of the skills that we need to emphasize moving forward:

  • Resilience
  • Empathy
  • Flexibility
  • Being a self starter
  • Creativity
  • Critical thinking
  • Ability to keep myself on task
  • Compassionate communication (in lots of very different ways)
  • Maintaining positive relationships, even over a distance
  • Being comfortable learning new ideas and technologies
  • Joy in creation (whether that is starting a garden, making bread, or learning to crochet)
  • Pride in my work

By the way, I am not saying we don’t teach the critical components of our curriculum. That is a given. But if the virus taught us anything, it has taught us that it is our humanity that matters the most, our need to bond with others, our desire to feel that what we are doing has meaning, and our constant hope that the future will be better.

What Does Teaching Look Like for These Skills?

If the above list works for you, then let’s consider what teaching looks like when those skills are emphasized. (And if that list of skills doesn’t work for you, please share what skills you think we should emphasize moving forward. I would really love for this to be a dialogue.)

Whether we are teaching and learning at home, measuring off six-foot “bubbles” for kids to work in, teaching to fewer students at a time, or back in classrooms as we used to be, the important thing is what we learned about ourselves and our students during the virus and how that applies to future learning.

So, what did we learn? Did we discover that:

  • We learn better together?
  • We learn best by working independently?
  • We learn sometimes with technology?
  • We learn sometimes with active learning that involves touching and doing?
  • We need each other and what we can all contribute to the learning?
  • We all have individual strengths and knowledge and skills that should be recognized and shared?

What should our instructional strategies look like moving forward? How can we embrace everything that we learned during this terrible time and use it to truly create a better, brighter future for all of us? What will we do differently? What was so valuable that it should remain the same?

I realize that this is a lot of questions for a blog. But I think that’s where our opportunity lies right now, in asking the right questions and in frank discussions and even heated arguments about what we do. What do you think?

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