Strategies to Circumvent COVID-19 Learning Loss

October 29, 2020 Sarah Williamson By Sarah Williamson
Strategies to Circumvent COVID-19 illustration

Without a doubt, district leaders anticipated learning loss when students returned to school this year –whether that was in person, virtually, or in a hybrid model. But it is still unclear just how substantial that learning loss will be long-term.

Some organizations have made dire predictions,
but we still have yet to see how students are performing this year. Without having access to standardized tests from the spring, data is just starting to emerge to provide the full picture of learning loss.

Despite this, there are reasons to be hopeful, and there are ways we can begin addressing COVID-19 learning loss right away.

In a recent podcast episode of Opportunity Thrives, we explore the potential solutions for learning loss, available resources, and how districts are addressing the challenge.

Our guest, Jean Sharp, has more than 25 years of leadership and management experience in the education and software publishing industries. Her expertise includes product development, curriculum strategy, instructional design and development, project management and effective implementations for digital learning solutions. Among her credits are numerous award-winning educational software products published for both school and consumer markets. Jean currently serves as a board member for the Digital Learning Collaborative.

Jean shares how her passion for ensuring students have an opportunity to learn has evolved from her early work as a teacher. Serving the needs of non-traditional students through alternative education programs, she worked with vulnerable students – most who were credit deficient and at risk of not graduating.

Through this work, Jean was able to see first-hand how many alternative school students have successfully benefited from virtual learning, and she is applying those valuable lessons to how we are mainstreaming online learning today.  

Many of her students at the time had family issues that pulled them into adult responsibilities well before they were ready. Some had to work to support themselves or their families. Others made poor choices, not always understanding the consequences. These students arrived in alternative education programs for a variety of reasons and with significant needs.

Her experience with these students has made Jean an advocate for creating a culture of learning that offers a second chance to students who missed out on educational opportunities previously — often through no fault of their own. We discuss how districts can help support these vulnerable students, particularly as remote learning may continue to evolve this fall.

There’s an old adage that Jean firmly believes: “Students don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care.” She shares her advice for fostering a culture of learning that helps students feel heard so that they know we truly care about their progress and meeting their goals.

This is incredibly important for supporting struggling students and for engaging those students who literally disappeared for a while when educators are able to reach them. She shares insights for inspiring connection with students to keep them engaged and motivated. 

Jean’s reassuring wisdom affirms that we must recommit to making school a place where students are welcomed and acknowledged; where learning is focused and relevant; where instructional approaches consider the specific needs of each student; and where we encourage students and prepare them for what’s next.

Listen to the full episode:

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