What Have Teachers Learned in 2020-2021, and How Will they Use That Learning to Make 2021-2022 Even Better?
The 2020-2021 school year was full of challenges for students, educators, and families. Much has already been written about those challenges and how they impacted learning. We reached out to educators to ask a different question: What did you learn in 2020-2021 that you plan to take into this coming school year? Here are two of the responses we received.
Connecting School, Students, and Families: Better Together
By: Amy Halsall, Pleasant Run Elementary School, Indianapolis, IN
To ensure that students learn and grow to the best of their abilities this year, we have found ways to implement small groups and 1:1 instruction that targets their academic and social needs. We regularly discuss student progress and adjust our groups as needed to make sure students have access to appropriate grade-level instruction and we intervene by filling in skill gaps when needed. We use bilingualism as an asset to help students acquire skills in English and Spanish. Strategies like cognate walls, tailored bilingual dictionaries, dictado in both English and Spanish, preview/view/review, and making languages visible and important help all our students to thrive and also advocate for themselves. It is critical that they know how to get their educational needs met as students.
Our mindset has been to keep going, keep helping, and keep learning and growing. As we look to 2021-2022, we will continue to focus on meeting student and family needs. We will meet our students where they are and work with them to enrich their vocabulary in all of their languages. We work with classroom teachers to plan, teach, and enrich lessons with Spanish and English and work towards creating bilingual students who are able to be the best that they can be.
Keep Using Technology!
By: Amy Bartholomew, Springfield Middle School, Fort Mill, SC
My understanding and use of technology to increase student learning has skyrocketed this past year. It will be valuable moving into the future in multiple ways. The best example is recorded lessons. I’ve learned to create a lesson on a Google Slide and record myself presenting it in Google Meet. I then upload my recorded lesson to Edpuzzle. There I am able to stop the recording wherever I want, to place a quick question to check for understanding. Students are given guided notes to complete as they watch the lesson. I assign the lesson to students through Google Classroom. I can see who watched the video and how well they understood the content. By using this strategy, students can watch a lesson when they have time (helpful when students are absent) and can watch it multiple times if they need to.
I will continue to use this method when my students return to face-to-face. Students can work at their own pace, I can differentiate lessons very easily in Google Classroom, and I can check for understanding with a quick glance. It will free me up to move around the room more as students are working and I can give more concentrated attention to students who need it. It will free up more time for focusing on problem-based learning!