Lessons Learned During the Pandemic

November 13, 2020 Sarah Williamson By Sarah Williamson
Student learning online

Monica Burns believes that right now we have an opportunity to change education for the better, but first we must address the basics. In our latest podcast episode of Opportunity Thrives, Monica shares her perspective on the challenges and opportunities that digital learning brings to our schools and our communities.  

A former New York City school district teacher, Monica discusses equity of access, student engagement, learning gaps, and the demands teachers face in keeping up with regular instruction.

She provides her perspective on what she believes will become part of our best practices for education—even when the pandemic is behind us. Listen to the full episode: https://opportunitythrives.com/lessons-learned-during-the-pandemic/.


Prioritizing access and a sense of community

Even now, months into the pandemic, there are still inequity and access issues for many students. There are still many educators who are struggling to get students connected. Monica emphasizes how important it is to acknowledge equity, access, and implementation issues before we are able to address curriculum and engagement challenges.


Secondly, she believes we must create a sense of community. Creating a sense of a community does not mean replicating the traditional classroom environment for a digital platform, but instead ensuring students and teachers feel there is a sense of belonging and connection. This means creating a place to give and receive feedback and making sure students still feel there is a connection to both their instructors and their peers.


Anticipated teacher shortages

Monica also addresses the fact that the pandemic is spurring the potential for a very large impact on teacher turnover and the number of educators that enter into the profession. She shares that the attrition rate is going to be very high, as a growing number of teachers move out of the profession for early retirement or career changes, and she anticipates teacher shortages will be an increasing struggle over the next few years.

Monica believes there was a lot of love and support for teachers early on with the pandemic when online learning seemed like a novelty. But as virtual learning continues, classroom teachers often feel the brunt of student and family frustrations. Continued professional development and supporting educator success will be the key to addressing this challenge.


Reimagining instruction

We have to rethink how we are delivering instruction. Educators are realizing that to be effective with virtual instruction, they have to focus on their relationship with students and families and let the curriculum do the heavy lifting on instruction.

This often means restructuring the day and rethinking weekly objectives. Districts will also need to rethink what virtual school options look like in the future. We will need options beyond supporting students with medical concerns or those who need alternative options. Moving forward, many families and educators are going to expect more flexibility and remote learning options.

This unusual time has provided new insight and understanding into what is possible with digital curriculum. One of the silver linings of the pandemic is the new learning opportunities that we have all discovered as a result of this digital shift. Monica believes that is most definitely worth celebrating. Listen to the full episode: https://opportunitythrives.com/lessons-learned-during-the-pandemic/.

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