Insights is a SmartBrief Education Originals column that features perspectives from noted experts and leaders in education on hot-button issues affecting schools and districts. All contributors are selected by the SmartBrief Education editorial team.
As we’re getting into the thick of the first full school year since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, some challenging and life-altering trends are happening across schools and districts.
Trend: Teachers as SEL experts
The imprint of the past year has left its mark. Students are coming to class with a profound need to socialize and unpack the stress of the pandemic, and teachers are being asked to support social and emotional learning without guidance or training — on top of all the other old and new duties, including rapid pivots between remote and in-person instruction.
Edtech can help make SEL support a priority by enabling students to communicate with their teachers in a way that protects their privacy and autonomy.
Trend: Edtech to reduce teacher stress
During the 2020-21 school year, many educators implemented new technology on the fly for remote teaching, often without training or implementation strategies. That left stress-relieving and work-reducing edtech tools adding more pressure. Now that teachers are returning to classrooms and have more of a comfort level with edtech, they’re able to be more knowledgeable and selective about which technology to use and which to drop.
Teachers want a choice when it comes to classroom tools, as well as the flexibility to use edtech in a way that can lighten their workload and help reduce stress.
Trend: Teachers expect more digital curricula
Last school year emphasized the connection between high-quality instructional materials and student success — but highlighted the fact that old-school ways of selecting, adopting and implementing curricula are not best serving teachers or students. Students suffer the most when a classroom lacks high-quality, interactive materials, and teachers often face the daunting task of finding and vetting supplemental materials on their own.
A digital curriculum offers educators a number of benefits that traditional binder or PDF curriculum does not: flexibility to adjust in scope and sequence or for cultural relevance, the ability to analyze and act on real-time student performance data, and the ability to supplement assignments with interactive content that increases digital citizenship and student engagement.
Trend: Educators want streamlined data, communication
Family involvement helps promote student success, but bombarding students, staff and parents with too many tools to log into and manage is hard on everyone. Parents, guardians and students benefit from having one location to check for messages, assignments and other school-related information and notifications. It’s important, too, that tools that combine student data and family communication match the digital skill levels of all its intended users to prevent frustration and disengagement.
Streamlined tools can improve a learning community and lead to better data. And now more than ever, data-driven decisions are critical in identifying gaps to maximize day-to-day instruction.
As we continue to traverse the pandemic, we must keep in mind how we can better support teachers, learners and communities as they navigate learning in new ways.
Abbas Manjee is chief academic officer and co-founder of Kiddom. Manjee encourages readers to reach out about trends this article may have missed, questions or successful implementation stories you may have. Contact Manjee at email@example.com.
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