And so it begins again – another school year.
It has been 12 years since I started my last new school year as a high school principal. Twelve years later I still get a little twitch thinking about the first day of school and what could go wrong (and usually didn’t). I can still see the excitement in the faces of students as they embarked on a fresh start. I can still feel the shared anxieties of staff and administrators, wondering if we had planned for everything. I can still increase my pulse rate thinking about the stress of that first week, which bus would be late, which classroom would be double booked again and how many students would show up without a schedule.
Excited students, anxious teachers, and stressed out administrators all signal the end of yet another summer and the opening of another school year. It has been a repeated routine for endless summers…until there was a pandemic. Now students, teachers and administrators alike are feeling a mashup of excitement, anxiety and stress all at once.
And who can blame them?
Two years ago it was all about standards, test scores, and performance indicators. It still is about those things, except that classroom engagement and interaction has been drastically changed…and continues to change. In-person, virtual, and hybrid learning interactions highlight the changing student-teacher relationship. I have the utmost respect and admiration for all those folks in the education trenches right now. It was a tough job back then, made even tougher now by the pandemic and its wake of collateral damage.
The U.S.Department of Education recently rolled out a Return to School Roadmap highlighting the impact the pandemic has had on education in this country. While many of the tenets of the plan would be appropriate under any circumstances, the pandemic has heightened the need to respond to new needs. We have always talked about student vaccinations, but never in terms that have been created by COVID. Safely reopening schools has always been a concern, but not as it relates to the potential spread of a virus. It is refreshing to see mental health support as a key to the roadmap as the need has always been there, but has been exacerbated by the pandemic.
One of the highest profile aspects of the roadmap is the need to address lost instructional time. Almost every student has lost out academically to varying degrees over the past 18 months.
Teachers have always typically been well prepared with a “bag of tricks” to fall back on as the world around them changes. The drastic changes over the past two years has put a real strain on that creative and innovative approach to teaching and learning. Lost instructional time and a resulting lack of academic growth, coupled with the unknown environment of a new school year (in-person, virtual, or hybrid) will make this new school year yet another unpredictable one requiring adaptability and flexibility…for teachers, students and parents.
There is an intersection of all of these factors with a potential solution to be found in Turning’s “bag of tricks”. Turning’s Dojo360, a new cloud-based learning and training software, bridges the gap between in-person and on-line learning, and provides teachers with the flexibility and adaptability to succeed in this ever changing environment. Teachers can leverage existing LMS, presentation platforms, content and user-engagement tools to accelerate and measure learning gains. Dojo360 is an example of a tool for our new normal of learning that allows for choices to be offered and made without compromise, and regardless of the environment. You can learn more about Dojo360 -- and even try it out for free -- at turning.com.
Here’s to a great school year and a larger back of tricks!