Given the research on the long-term consequences of the learning gap that existed prior to the COVID disruption to schooling, along with the real concern that academic disparities are only growing worse during the pandemic, it would be no surprise that educators might feel overwhelmed. But we could look at this moment as an opportunity to provide an education that works for every child. Let’s reengage in our face-to-face educational lives with intention and commitment to the vision we want to realize in our “new normal.”
In a recent interview on 60 Minutes about the impact of COVID-19 on students, Dr. Grant Rivera, superintendent of Marietta City Schools in Georgia, ended with a sobering final commentary: “We will have children who will carry trauma and learning loss, I believe, for their entire educational trajectory. And I think that's what's so important. How are we—amidst the exhaustion that our educators feel—going to proactively respond to that?"
I appreciate Dr. Rivera’s forthright language. While we never want to approach a student learning challenge with a deficit mindset, we’ve got to be real about the possible long-term effects. We’ve got to be honest about the weighty responsibility that education leaders and decision-makers continue to bear. As Dr. Rivera frankly stated, there will be lasting consequences for this group of students. Our actions will shape those consequences. Will we emerge with a cohort of more resilient, flexible, self-sufficient learners who lost a little in the way of academics but gained much in self-agency and self-advocacy? Will we emerge with a sense of defeat and “what might have been” for many? Or will we have the will and skill to make decisions and design systems that put our students firmly on a path to proficient and positive futures?
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