Monday, March 23, 2020

When Kids Get Back to School


These are unique times that require unique responses to education.  When kids get back to school, teachers will not know what level they are on or what priorities their education plan will take.  Their skills will be all over the board. 

The time has come to realize all kids are different, they learn at different rates, in different ways, with different background knowledge and different experiences.  And that is only the beginning.

To begin, educators must make every effort to gather information about every student.  This includes a small pre-test as well as additional class assessments.  These evaluations must not be in test form but be demonstrations of learning to assure we understand what the child can do.  i.e. science project

It is important to recognize that the big standardized test will be outdated and is too slow to get back to the teachers. Not to mention that it is only a snap shot in time and by itself is fundamentally useless. It should be discarded completely because educators have a better way!  

1. Before kids return , educators should gather information about every student from their past performance. This does not mean grade point averages or test scores. This means actual information.

2. Previous teachers should document goals achieved and goals to be achieved for every student.

3. Once students arrive, designated educators should give small pre tests in reading and math, one on one, to the students. This is not rocket science, educational assistants as well as social workers, psychologist and any educator without a class can do it. This is done one on one to assure accurate results. This information goes directly to the students new teacher.

4. All subjects should be assessed, however not by a written test. Develop a demonstration of learning that will help teachers plan for the student's future. A good example is a science project or a challenge in orchestra.

5. It is important to recognize that the big standardized test will be out of date and a new one will take too long to get back to teachers. Written tests are an artificial snap shot in time and are basically useless when compared to small assessments that go directly to teachers. The big test should be discarded completely.

6. Having gathered this information, teachers along with the student and parent should develop a MAP (My Action Plan) that guides the student toward their future.

7. This MAP will also be a guide to assess the needs of the students, It will work as a portfolio. Imagine handing that portfolio to the university rather than an artificial test.

8. The concept of pass and fail must be put on hold as now the focus is directly on student needs.

9. Most teachers are adept at differentiated instruction. For this, sufficient planning time must be made available along with small class size. These are non- negotiable.

There is plenty of time to develop these ideas while teachers are off due to the virus crises.  And of course they must be paid.  This is essential to education as a whole and will be mind boggling when complete.

As well, there are no more excuses not to reduce dramatically, class size.  Class size and planning time is essential to quality education and after the current crisis, the children will suffer dramatically without a plan of action that is realistic to implement.  This can be done creatively using educational assistants. Teachers should simply not return without a plan for planning time and small class size.

If not now, when?  The only way we can bring kids back to a full education, after this crisis is to pay attention to the needs of all students EQUALLY!


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