Whether you are writing your transition plan, preparing to return, or have already returned to in-person learning, you, like many other educational leaders, are likely facing many challenges and unknowns.
As you continue to craft and refine your plans, reflecting on the considerations below can help you more effectively build a blueprint for a successful reopening.
1. Consider what we do know.
We may not know what in-person learning will confidently look like as we reopen and transition back to the classroom. Will it be a new normal with socially-distanced parameters in place? Will it return to our ‘old’ normal? Or, will it be different in ways we never anticipated? With so much still unknown, it’s critical we root our decisions in what we do know, and what research supports and has proven. Research has proven that quality teacher-child interactions matter. And now, in a time where we are planning to return to in-person, they are even more critical. As you refine your reopening plans, ensure it focuses on what we know matters most -- high-quality interactions.
2. Consider the well-being of your staff, your children, and their families.
January was the deadliest month for the Coronavirus thus far. For almost a year, we all have been facing the stress, anxiety, and worry associated with Coronavirus and its aftermath. Many have lost jobs, family members, friends, or have felt a loss in other ways, like loss of normalcy. As you write your reopening plans, build opportunities to learn trauma-informed strategies, build opportunities for self-care, build structure to mitigate burn-out, and focus on being responsive to the well-being of those around you, and also yourself.
3. Consider the classroom environments.
For most, reopening plans include children returning to the classroom for the first time in almost a year, if not longer. As you build your plans, reflect on the classroom and how to best support your teachers in creating environments that are warm and welcoming, and support children’s social-emotional learning and development. Determine how you will ensure equitable experiences across the classrooms in your programs, and ensure that each child has an environment that maximizes their potential through high-quality interactions.
4. Consider your staff’s professional development needs.
As the landscape of education continues to evolve, the needs of your staff and professional development opportunities may continue to evolve. As you plan for the reopening, rather than be for this school year or next, think about how your organizational structure may have shifted, and the needs your staff may have as a result. In your reopening plans, includes opportunities to rebuild your workforce if needed, to invest in professional development that supports quality interactions, and to offer trainings that address the challenges your teachers may face in returning to hybrid or in-person classrooms.
5. Consider your needs as a leader.
What services, systems, and partnerships do you already have that can support the critical work of reopening and transitioning back to in-person learning? At Teachstone, we are committed to serving as your partner and helping you to navigate these unprecedented times and determine the right supports and services to best set your program up for success.
Watch the on-demand webinar panel discussion:
Watch the on-demand webinar panel discussion:
From coast to coast and around the globe, there’s a common thread that unites teachers: wanting to be better for their students.
Even when things are tough in education, educators are striving to be their best. Their dedication to equitable, ongoing development is what inspires Teachstone’s work. It will take a systematic, data-driven approach to reach the day when all children are afforded excellent education and care. And, we are enthusiastic partners in getting to that goal.
By the end of every summer, the education world erupts with talk about back-to-school. This year was no different. The air was full of optimism. Vaccines had rolled out, many of us took our first vacation in a year and a half, and my inbox was full of the “best back to school” sales. Sadly, as quickly as many schools welcomed children back into the classroom with open arms, they were forced to close again due to increases in COVID-19 infections.
Admins, teachers, students, and families alike may be feeling concerned, cautiously optimistic, pessimistic, or confused. If you’re like me, you might feel all of the above all at once. But, I am taking comfort in knowing that this year, we are armed with more data.
Teachstone applauds the removal of three Confederate statues in Charlottesville, VA. Our organization is headquartered in this Southern city and we have seen first-hand the visceral reaction evoked by these tributes to figureheads of the Lost Cause movement. While the cause of the Confederacy in the Civil War has been lost, the war on racism has not yet been won.
How have children’s social and emotional needs changed this year?
That’s one of the major concerns Teachstone has been hearing from leaders and educators across the country. Even before the pandemic, teachers in early childhood settings, elementary school, and beyond had increasingly been paying attention to children’s self-regulation, social skills, and other emotional needs. With so much turmoil and loss, what has shifted? How can educators prepare to support children? And...how can leaders prepare to support their teaching staff?
To tackle these questions, we brought together Amanda Alexander, VP of Policy and Partnership Development at Teachstone; Bridget Hamre, Co-Founder and CEO at Teachstone; Gene Pinkard, Aspen Institute Director of Practice and Leadership; and Bloodine Barthelus, Director of Practice Innovations at CASEL. Our experts shared the principles they think are most important for social-emotional learning, the challenges they’re anticipating, and how thoughtful instructional leaders are rolling out new social-emotional initiatives.