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What Have We Learned?

The COVID-19 experience reveals that schools can be incredibly responsive in a crisis. As schools have shifted to remote learning, some educators have voiced that in the current circumstance schools need to focus on remote learning and only remote learning. We would argue that focusing on remote learning also requires a focus on equity, inclusion, and belonging. We can focus on remote learning and equity, inclusion, and belonging by asking questions:

Who are we hearing from during this period of remote learning? Who are we not hearing from? Asking these two questions can help us determine which families may need us to engage with them.

Who is burdened during this crisis? Which students are not turning in assignments? Giving out laptops and tablets does not give a student time or circumstances to use them. The adults that are considered essential are still reporting to work --------- grocers, pharmacists, agricultural workers, nurses, warehouse workers, and science researchers to name a few. These essential adults may not be able to support their children at home with time, attention, or access to the internet. The adults that are now unemployed may need to make different financial decisions and may prioritize feeding and housing their families over internet access. How are we checking in with these families?

How are we supporting on-line teaching? How are we encouraging teachers to be culturally responsive and culturally relevant in their teaching? We all have blindspots and need help in being able to see them. We also know that unconscious bias is more likely to reveal itself during times of stress. How are we checking in with teachers about their practices and class content? Are we dropping into on-line class sessions?

How are we living our mission during this crisis?Many schools and districts have a mission statement. This is a great time to take a moment and ask how is our mission guiding us in our work with students and families right now?

What kinds of neighbors are we being? Community is highly valued in most schools. How are we connecting with schools in our local, national, and global community? These connections are mutually beneficial. How are we encouraging them?

Originally published April 16, 2020

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