The beginning of a change in education?

Are state standardized tests a thing of the past?  As we begin our journey through a new year we have to look back at the past to see if what we are really doing for children is best. This means really looking at our standardized testing and evaluating the effectiveness of it. And, whether we’re ready or not, education is evolving.  Just like our students, education will be growing as it always does.  This year maybe quicker than we had hoped.

Pedagogical growth is the kind of growth we need to recharge and reimagine education. I’m also talking about something I’m calling “educational character” growth. It’s the flipping of priorities in order to address achievement, or the reprioritizing of community and compassion over content as a means to positively impact curriculum and student achievement.  How many of your school districts have already started to do this?  If not, why not?

It’s clear that education is getting overhauled. This process isn’t going to be completed in a day or a week, but the tide has turned and the new way to teach, learn, and assess is upon us.  It has been a while since we have had such a dynamic change in education, well think back to the Bush Administration and “No Child Left Behind.”  Some argue that since that time students have really not grown or have shown that much growth compared to other countries.  So, we say to ourselves why is this the case?  Heading into 2021 what is ticking around in education and what might change?

My Crystal ball says these things are huge this year

  1. Assessments, assessments, and more assessments. We love that word don’t we, and so do our students. Do we really need high-stakes, nationwide, standardized tests?Is the goal to give our students stress and anxiety over these tests? Are they really a predictor in how students will do in school?  Are there other ways to check a students’ understanding of material?  There must be other ways to hold both students and teachers accountable than standardized tests, right?
  2. Social emotional well-being of all students and staff. This topic has been around for decades, but until recently did SEL (social and emotional learning) really come into play. We have all seen or have heard of teachers connecting with students. This is critical especially as we hope to come out of a pandemic soon.  Understanding and being empathetic of our students’ circumstances has helped us individualize for their needs, understand their assets, and support them during this time. I think it is safe to say that SEL will become embedded into lesson planning as well as classroom culture in a more intentional and frequent way. This is not just a lesson that you can teach one time and put it away, this needs to and can have so much potential in helping students achieve both cognitively and as a member of society.  Don’t forget, we also need to check in on the social emotional well-being of the staff, and ALL STAFF.  Let’s remember, we are all human, social emotional well-being is for everyone.
  3. We need to continue to partner with our community. Communicating with the community is vital in this partnership of learning. We need the support from parents in order for their children to learn. This can only be done if we communicate and keep the lines of communication open.  Whether we use technology, the phone, or face to face interactions we need to keep the communication stream flowing and it has to be a two-way street.
  4. How do you reach your students’ these days? How do you keep them engaged in lessons? How about if you are remote learning, have your strategies changed?  Engagement is the key to getting an keeping students excited about learning.  As teachers, we really had to think on our feet and change quickly in this regard.  Teachers are now using more project- based learning in their teaching as a way to keep students engaged and motivated.  Find what works for you to keeps students engaged and use it.

As we ring in 2021, we have this opportunity to reenergize education as we know it.  I am not saying that we need to scrap everything and start over, but the overhaul has begun and we can continue to make those changes just like we make changes to our curriculum.