This pandemic has taught me that in order to embrace new ways of reaching our students we have to let go of practices and ways of teaching that, frankly, do not work and will not take us where we want to go with kids. Reliance on teachers’ ability to connect with students based on likability of the teacher doesn’t work as well in a virtual environment. Much of the humor and relationship building strategies that some teachers excel at in person, fall flat in Google Meets. Reliance on higher level students to keep a class discussion going doesn’t work when your class only has six hesitant and shy students because the rest of your students attend on the other hybrid days or are distance learners.
In turn, I’ve had to let go of prior thinking of what constitutes quality teaching and learning. If teachers aren’t getting the results they expect to get with a strategy, then those teaching strategies are no longer acceptable. I’ve also had to accept that our teachers and students will be forever changed by the experience they have had this year. School as we know it will never be the same. In some ways that will be good, in other ways, not so much. Regardless, this change points to the need for me to revise my vision for where we need to head as a school. When considering where our school needs to head in terms of teaching practice and expectations, we must consider the ultimate question–What do our students really need to know and be able to do when they leave us?
When considering the question of the competencies we want our students to have, I see the need more than ever for us to let go. As we think about what is on the horizon for our students just in how they will be asked to demonstrate learning on changing state assessments, I am feeling the pull to provide deeper learning experiences for our students in our school. This will demand more than the DOK Level 1 and 2 knowledge that we have been able to get by with providing our students to enjoy the level of success we have had. It will be fortunate that we have all had lots of practice this year letting strategies that no longer work go. We will need that flexibility and willingness as we look toward what will be required from our Generation P (pandemic) students in our post-pandemic world.