We experienced many heartbreaking challenges during 2020 and into the 2021 school year. From the COVID-19 pandemic to social injustice to economic upheaval to rising violence and uncertainty around the world, this past year and a half has taken a grave toll on our physical and emotional health. A great deal of what we had planned – including traditional learning – took a back seat. As we celebrate the authorization of safe and effective vaccines, we must reopen our schools in a strategic manner according to best practices for health and safety. We must take the time we need to focus on social emotional health. And we must create multicultural classrooms that don’t just teach tolerance but create justice.
Though students lost many typical learning benchmarks during this time, all was not lost! Both students and teachers experienced a great deal of unexpected learning: new technologies, new applications, new ways of demonstrating proficiency, new ways of interacting with families, new ways of reaching across the miles. Schools must capitalize on this new learning, improve upon it, and carry it into the years ahead. As students transition back to full, in-person learning and spend less time in quarantine, let’s help students build resilience by giving them the space they need to develop strong, social emotional connections. It won’t be long then before students are ready to take on those typical learning benchmarks and even surpass them!