COVID-19 and Education

Being in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis is by far the craziest situation I have ever lived through. This is probably true for most of us. The implications for education are potentially endless! A good friend and colleague said that this situation is “magnifying or amplifying” everything that we collectively struggle with in schools. And it is. Students are not engaged. This is because they don’t have to be. They are not sitting at desks, in rows, and forced to stare forward. In some cases students are home alone, they don’t have access consistent food, to technology, and the Internet. Students can keep their phones out, they can open tabs, they can sleep, text a friend…the system is no longer able to control them!

When we are more worried about more test scores, grades, and “falling behind” than about the health, safety, and security of our students then we have truly missed the point what we can learn from all of this.

What if we use this crisis to spur real change in education to reexamine the fundamental purpose of education itself? What questions should we ask? Who should we ask? What if we designed our system to support students’ social emotional needs as the main component of what we do? I start wondering: What would be a more valuable course right now? Would it be “Shakespeare’s Life and Work” or something like “Public Health and Awareness“, “Algebra” or “The Science of Well-being“? What if graduation requirements became centered around gaining real-life skills and functional knowledge revolving around mental health and well-being, equity, justice, public health, digital literacy, political discourse, and financial literacy instead of what we have been doing since before anyone reading this was in school.

What do you think?

Relationships and Learning

Many schools have committees titled something like “Teaching and Learning” where teachers come together to discuss how to improve teaching. What if, instead, schools organized a committee called “relationships and learning”? What if this committee included students?

Changing the role to being the developers of relationships and the name “teacher” to “mentor” or “guide” really alters how we view the role of the teacher, and the focus of what is happening in a classroom. It shifts from teacher-centered to learning-centered.

Our job as teachers isn’t to teach content, it’s to teach children first and foremost!