Earlier this fall, during our Curriculum Night / Meet the Teacher Night, a parent ask a question about learning gaps. My cohort of students, like all Grade 2 students, have not had a full year of in-person learning at school… ever. With Covid-19 school closures and a pivot to remote learning during their Senior Kindergarten year (spring 2020) and then again during their Grade 1 year (spring 2021), these students have not completed a full school year in-person. This parent referred to this cohort as a social experiment and asked what sort of gaps we were seeing and how we were planning on tackling them.
Immediately, I thought about our school North Stars. One North Star that I have always been a big fan of is There Is a Floor Here, but No Ceiling. My interpretation has been that our curriculum goals and expectations are the floor, but the sky’s the limit. I have always used this North Star to push my students beyond what most people think 7 year olds are capable of with technology integration, blogging, Math challenges, tweeting, writing stories, passion projects, etc. However, with the school closures and gaps (academically, as well as socially), I have decided to reframe this North Star.
As an educator with a passion for Special Education, I have always believed that we must meet students where they are and provide multiple entry points for learning experiences in our classrooms. However, this year (and unfortunately, most likely for the next few years to come), I will be reframing this North Star in order to adapt it for the current world we are living in.
So what does that mean?
Every student has their own floor of where they currently are (i.e. whether they actively participated in remote learning, whether they socialized with peers throughout lockdowns, etc.) and we must ensure that we are meeting each student at their floor. From there, we can fill gaps, remediate as needed, enrich as needed, and of course, support and integrate social-emotional learning as needed. We should not be seeing the floor as what we have seen or taught in previous years. There are technology skills that I used to teach in Grade 2 that these students are well-beyond from remote learning, and printing / writing skills that are more behind that previous cohorts in Grade 2.
While this may seem like a big feat, I do believe it will make all of us better educators. We will become educators with more empathy, more understanding, more willingness to personalize, and more social emotional learning tools in our toolboxes.
As this first chunk of the school year wraps up and we all head into winter break, take some time to reflect on what you need and what your students need… let’s make 2022 a fantastic year.