By Ellen Paxton, Chief Learning Officer, Professional Learning Board
Like everything else post-COVID-19, schools are going to look different this fall. As teachers, we are grappling with that fact and trying to determine exactly how we will help our students come September. Will in-person classroom instruction resume? If so, will wide spaces between desks suffice, or will districts rely on staggered schedules to keep COVID at bay? Will cafeterias and playgrounds remain closed, and what could take their place?
While the future remains uncertain, we can count on one thing: distance learning will remain a part of the plan. Fortunately, this time around, educators have time and experience on their side. Following a tough transition period for most schools, Summer break provides the perfect opportunity to evaluate, invest in, and enhance school-wide PD and distance learning programs.
Educators can use this time to heighten their professional development by taking an online course that helps them transfer their skills from the classroom to a virtual classroom setting. As leaders in teacher training, Professional Learning Board responded to the stay-at-home orders by providing a free, five-hour course, giving teachers the tools they need to succeed in a virtual classroom.
In districts across the country, several common problems have slowed, even prevented, consistent learning this past semester. The priority needs to focus on these important areas:
Removing barriers to equity in remote learning. Every student and instructor needs access to a device and reliable connectivity at home. Some cities have developed partnerships with foundations and technology companies to provide free high-speed internet access to families, and a congressional measure to make it more widely and consistently available is on the table.