I stopped using the phrase “unprecedented times” as soon as I could this semester. Because no one wants to hear what they feel in their bones, how novel this situation is, how exhausting, how sustained, and how stressful the unprecedented nature of teaching was this year. Teachers have been deprived of their strength – interacting with students – and they feel it.
The good news is that these times will no longer be unprecedented. Teacher feedback, Online meetings, and Grading are all things the K-12 educational system has actually done after closing out this current semester.
At the end of the summer and as school readied districts and schools used the lessons of last March to inform how a campus could close, but the learning keeps going. Districts and schools prepared the best they could based upon the information available to schools about students in class during a pandemic.
Teachers did more than work in their learning management system and scheduled video conference meetings. Teachers had to craft actionable feedback for students. And, as possible, including the feedback from the home caregivers. A nice example of that is the opportunity for parents to help with Narrative Assessments for our youngest learners.
As a portion of educators recognized and embraced the potential for more student-centered instruction, the opportunity to use video conferencing tools in an innovative way presented itself, online student-led conferences.
Grades should not punish either the teacher or students for a pandemic, and by definition should be flexible for the duration of the pandemic. Post-pandemic there will be a period of remediation and grading normalization will be addressed then. During the pandemic is not time to plan for that scenario – let the grading wait until after the pandemic concludes.
Teachers also realized that with the level of experience they now have taught online, they have new skills and opinions.
- Evaluate Content
- Create Iterations of Content
- Create Original Content
- Enhanced Technology Competencies
When these “unprecedented times” conclude we may still reference this phrase, but we need to learn from and evolve past, where we were in education during those times.
Lowenthal, P., Borup, J., West, R. & Archambault, L. (2020). Thinking Beyond Zoom: Using Asynchronous Video to Maintain Connection and Engagement During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 28(2), 383-391. Waynesville, NC USA: Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education.