School boards across the country are working with their local districts to address the unique learning challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. Transitioning to remote learning is difficult for everyone and not all families are equipped to create a home learning environment easily. Additionally, many families may not have access to adequate food and services, which takes priority over remote learning. For teachers in Florida Union Free School District, “it’s been an eye-opening experience as they realize that their students’ homelife varies quite a bit,” says Sue Wheeler, Florida Union Free School District board member.
Physical distancing doesn’t mean social and emotional distancing and districts are working to find the right balance of synchronous and asynchronous learning for teachers, students, and families. Many districts are using a phased approach to introduce students and teachers to remote learning. In the East Penn School District in Pennsylvania, phase 1 consisted of voluntary activities for students that did not introduce new learning. During phase 2, East Penn launched more structured, teacher-directed learning to provide continuity of instruction.
“Our district did a great job implementing phase 1 remote learning,” says Adam Smith, East Penn School District board member. “As we move forward, we will continue to build from our successes and learn from our mistakes.”
As districts work to develop remote learning plans, there will inevitably be hiccups during the process. Consequently, it is imperative that leaders communicate regularly with staff, students, families, and the community. Future Ready Schools® (FRS) believes that communication is key for a successful remote learning experience. In Florida Union Free School District, school board member Wheeler says that “on-going communication between the school board, the superintendent, and the state board of education is essential as the district transitions to remote learning.”
FRS community partnerships include formal, informal, local, and global collaborative relationships that advance school and student learning goals. Community partnerships extend students’ opportunities for learning far beyond the school walls and the limits of the school day.
Providing transparency around assessments and grading is essential. Understandably, teachers, students, and families want and need clear guidance around what is expected of students during this unforeseen time of remote learning. Most districts are modifying their requirements for grading. In East Penn School District, student work is not graded, however participation, progress, and feedback are documented to ensure continuity of learning. Additionally, nearly all states have cancelled standardized assessments for the year.
During these prolonged school closures, we must do everything possible to ensure learning continues for every child and be transparent about remote learning expectations for teachers, students, and families. Providing on-going and frequent communication to teachers, students, families and the community is paramount.
This blog is supported by Konica Minolta. Learn more about their unique approach to partnership for supporting districts with the implementation of digital learning goals.
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The new Future Ready Schools® (FRS) podcast series, Leading Through Unprecedented Times, looks at how teaching and learning have shifted online overnight due to mandated school closures across the nation. FRS leaders are simultaneously addressing and amplifying equity issues among marginalized groups as schools become the community hub for food distribution and human connection. Listen to powerful stories from school and district leaders who are overcoming adversity and offering their communities hope as they lead through unprecedented times!
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