As students having been adapting to a new way of learning, it’s important to recognize that the pressure to succeed remains, and is now amplified without their usual means of support. In addition, parents have struggled to understand the best way to support their children and sought guidance and structure from the educators leading this change.
We have been consulting with countless school leaders and our own internal experts to learn more about how we can support educators as they strive to find common ground. Ultimately, we realized a successful transition to learning from home begins with a desire to make learning personal for each student.
To aid in this transition, we took the most prevalent student concerns and narrowed them down to five questions, which we call the “Fundamental Five.” This simple framework serves as the foundation for improving communication processes—wherever and however learning happens.
1. What am I supposed to do?
With a shift to learning at home, parents and students have been feeling particularly stressed about how to structure their days. Sending or posting a detailed schedule of each day’s activities, assignments and readings with clear directions, expectations and submission requirements helps keep both students and parents on track. If you are using online resources that require a student login, don’t forget to include easy-access to login information.
Students and parents will continue to face many trials that don’t fall into a district’s sphere of influence, but they are depending on educators now more than ever to provide clarity and consistency around the work that needs to be done.
2. When is it due?
Many schools are struggling to determine how to get resources to students and are finding it even more difficult to collect student work. Many districts have opted out of collecting assignments and chose to focus on an extended continuous learning model. If you apply due dates to assignments, it’s important to make sure there is clarity around when work should be completed and how students should turn their work in to teachers.
3. How did I do?
Providing feedback to students while they are learning from home can be challenging, but it is even more important now that educators and students are apart. When educators provide students feedback on assignments, graded or not, they are communicating that the learning process will continue and that you acknowledge their effort. Grades are inevitable. Feedback is personal.
4. Can you help me?
There are parents sitting with their children right now wishing educators could step in to provide the support their child needs. We know that communication methods will vary greatly from school to school, but having a clear method for connecting with your students and parents is key.
5. What more can I do?
Like it or not, students are still worried about their grades. The transition to learning at home is likely to create additional stress and uncertainty around grading practices. Creating additional and alternative opportunities for students to demonstrate understanding and show that they are meeting expectations is essential to alleviating stress.
Students and parents will continue to face many trials that don’t fall into a district’s sphere of influence, but they are depending on educators now more than ever to provide clarity and consistency around the work that needs to be done. As the need for remote learning continues, opportunities will arise to learn and adapt as a community, as we are all committed to ensuring the success of our students.
Trenton Goble is vice president of K-12 strategy for Canvas. He is a former school principal and author of Reclaiming the Classroom: How America’s Teachers Lost Control of Education and How They Can Get It Back.
DA’s coronavirus page offers complete coverage of the impacts on K-12.