As of March 29, 2020, school closures due to COVID-19 have impacted at least 124,000 U.S. public and private schools and affected at least 55.1 million students, according to Education Week.
In a recent edWebinar, Dr. Justin Aglio, Director of Academic Achievement and District Innovation for the Montour School District in Pennsylvania, expressed that while we have prepared for school closures due to weather and disasters, school districts have found themselves in an unprecedented reality.
While educators and support staff are trying to ensure continuity of learning for their students during school closures, school and district leaders have an opportunity to design a positive future.
Aglio recommends that districts align every action and decision regarding remote and virtual learning to their mission, vision, and core values. In the Montour School District, they are designing a positive future for Montour schools aligning every action and decision to their three core values: curricula, educational technology, professional development.
Adopt and adapt
As recently as three months ago, school districts had robust, successful adapt and adopt methods for new curricula and programming, including the collaborative process of assessment, observation, and reflection. However, most school districts are forced to adopt and adapt methods for online and remote learning software and curricula due to the current school closure situation.
Aglio points out that school districts must implement the same collaborative process to acquire educational programs and curricula no matter whether stakeholders are meeting in person in a school conference room or online in a Zoom or Google meeting room.
The new August
Aglio recommends that teachers and school leaders take a step back and consider March as the new August, focusing on the start of the school year expectations, curricula, scope and sequence, and relationship building.
He prescribes five tips for designing a student-centered, future-focused edtech mindset:
Ensure equity for all students, especially students with disabilities, low-income students, and ELL students through digital resources such as Google sites and Classrooms, television options such as PBS, and communication tools such as Google phone and snail-mail.
Develop a clear game plan, including clear, precise, and accessible communication options that support the entire school community.
Build a healthy community by focusing on learning for students, teachers, parents, administrators, and school board members while creating a sense of belonging that sends a voice that we are all in this together.
Continue to provide and use quality district vetted resources and not fall into the trap of “trying” new educational resources.
Lastly, school leaders should reflect every day to assess current practices that connect all stakeholders, especially our students.