Slow but Steady

Posted on: Tue, 04/06/2021 - 12:55

Have you ever noticed that many of the lessons found in Aesop’s fables are still relevant today?

March 13th was the one-year anniversary of the closing of all Maryland schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Students throughout the country have faced a disrupted instructional environment for more than a year. The academic, social, and emotional impact on students has been well documented. Unfortunately, many policy makers seem to believe that summer programs and tutoring sessions will help students recover quickly. Lawmakers in Maryland are asking for pre-and post-testing in summer school to figure out which interventions get the best gains so we can apply it everywhere!

Slow but steady.

When I listen to the national news, I hear comments about how many years it may take for certain industries to recover from the pandemic. One forecast noted that it will likely be 2024 before the tourism industry recovers — and I am not sure how they define “recover.”

Why do we think that students will be able to “recover” faster? Are we adding more pressure to students, teachers, and schools? Are improving test scores the most important focus for students’ recovery?

Research when schools reopened in Europe cited the importance of addressing the social-emotional needs first. Every student has experienced trauma. The impact of trauma must be addressed first. Academic gains will rely on getting the brain ready for learning first.

Our goal for summer programs is to build on the social experiences of school. For some students, it is simply a chance to reconnect and refresh some skills that got rusty. For other students, it is a chance to feel safe in a school setting again. For some students, it is an opportunity to interact socially. For other students, it is a chance to explore hands-on in order to acquire skills that they could not grasp in a virtual world.

Every student’s story will be unique. Every student’s needs will be different. There is no pre-test that will tell teachers the full story behind each child, but that story is critically important to moving forward. In an age of accountability and a desire to use test scores to measure success, we may be losing sight of what our students really need to recover.

Slow but steady.