Suggestions for Attempting to Recover the Instructional Time That Was Lost Due to COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has cost us all a lot, as we all know. The additional impact of delays, school closures, and general disruption has been of unprecedented proportions. The volume of work that needs to be covered to get back on track can seem like an avalanche. This task is daunting. Thankfully, teachers are doing the best they can in such a tumultuous time. In this article, we will provide suggestions for schools attempting to recover the instructional time that was lost due to COVID-19.
1. Capitalize on What’s Working
Notable student learning loss has occurred in math and reading because of COVID-19, according to research by NWEA. The pandemic and pre-existing inequities in the education system have exacerbated matters. The general rhetoric has championed negativity in regards to keeping up with learning outcomes for this academic year. A deliberate attempt at shifting from this negativity to a positive outlook for the sake of our learners is crucial. Positivity can be gleaned even during these rough times. Learners took up the challenge and adapted. With no small measure of resilience, many had to learn better time management, coping skills, and the ability to ask for more support when they needed it.
2. Focus on Social-emotional Learning
It is impossible to ignore the impact of the pandemic anywhere. Learners are affected directly and indirectly. This culminates in unstable emotional and social conditions for learners. Symptoms of depression and challenges concentrating showed up in students displaced by Hurricane Katrina, according to research. When learners are busy worrying, it no doubt affects their performance. Concerns such as food security, family finances, and anxiety about getting sick are rampant in these times. It is, therefore, crucial learners are shielded from these challenges. Therefore, these underlying concerns also need to be looked at first.
3. Concentrate on Grade-level content
To curb ongoing learning loss, begin the academic year by teaching grade-level content. Incorporate support mechanisms to buffer learners as they get back on track. Avoid beginning the year with tests. This can be hard to avoid when teachers consider it necessary to determine skills gaps for reteaching and remediation. However, studies show that starting with tests right away may hurt learning outcomes.
4. Give Adequate Assistance
Though beginning with tests for the learners is discouraged, it is good practice to start with diagnostic assessments to determine what preliminary skills learners will need as learning commences. These assessments are crucial in identifying the level of learning loss that has occurred. Assessments also help in determining a starting point for teachers. Avoiding a linear approach to learning and adopting a “just-in-time strategy” is key. This is a strategy that allows a myriad of entry points to the content for learners. In this process, increasing the accessibility of grade-level content to learners and differentiating instruction is equally needed.
5. Solving Skill Gaps With Technology
If all learners have fair access to technology, then technology can be used for remediation in a hybrid manner. Software programs exist or can be custom developed that do all the heavy lifting. This heaving lifting would include assessing the learners, allotting specific skills, and monitoring the progress of the learners. Flexibility is maximized because learners can work at their paces and places. For students that do not have home access to the necessary technology, supportive communities can be engaged to bridge this gap.
6. Change the Narrative
Change is often unsettling and sometimes unwelcome. However, change does not have to be negative. The mindset that needs to be adopted is that change, in this case, is a new avenue to explore. The change is an opportunity to rethink things and innovate. This opportunity for innovation can make learning more equitable whilst addressing the urgent needs at hand. The gains from fewer distractions and lack of time wastage in a traditional learning environment from pre-COVID eras may even be a considerable plus.
What are your thoughts? What can remedy the current learning loss experienced as a result of COVID-19? What are your thoughts? Feel free to share below.