5 Lessons Schools Learned During the Pandemic to Address Learning Loss this Fall
May 23, 2021
The bigger structural changes many hoped would be a silver lining from the pandemic didn’t happen. However, parents and teachers undoubtedly learned some important lessons that can be used to address learning loss and improve in-person school for everyone this Fall. Here are the top things we learned that are (a) also consistent with science and (b) readily implementable by all schools.
1. Social-emotional Learning (SEL) comes first.
Regardless of motivation, if a student can’t focus because they are anxious or stressed or inherently struggle with attention, their brain just doesn’t have the space to learn something new. This will be an absolute need in post-COVID classrooms this Fall to efficiently address learning loss and student engagement.
Teachers can…give students 5 minutes at the start of class to relax and re-focus. This can be mindfulness but it also can be a quick discussion or fun activity.
After school…give students free time to relax and not jump directly into homework. During homework build in regular relaxation breaks.
Thinking about equity… Research shows that students living in poverty suffer from chronic stress and ongoing attention challenges, even before the pandemic. Email us to discover how other schools are approaching this challenge.
2. Socialization improves student learning.
Socialization during class is key to engagement and deeper learning. While lecture or online learning platforms can feel more efficient, research tells us otherwise. Interacting with peers during lessons has the key benefits of active learning, intrinsic motivation, and peer teaching – 3 factors known to drive the greatest learning gains.
Teachers can…build in time for class discussion, turn and talk and small group work in every lesson and for homework assignments.
After school…encourage students to form study groups for the academic and social benefits.
3. Students need down time from being social.
In-person school requires students to be social for 8+ hours without a break. It can be exhausting. Particularly for introverts. Students will have more energy for learning if we can provide them “time off from being social” to replenish.
Schools can… provide quiet spaces or quiet times where students must work independently so they can replenish in addition to mindfulness suggested in #1.
After school…it’s harder now than ever but limit social media time. Turn off devices a minimum of one hour before bedtime.
Wondering if 2 & 3 conflict…they don’t. Extroverts need more of 2 than 3, introverts the opposite. Every student needs both.
4. Faster is not smarter.
The pleasant surprise was the students who blossomed in online learning. Disproportionately these were students who work more slowly. Virtual learning gave them the luxury of taking the time they needed to show their best work.
Teachers can…allow students to finish in-class assignments after class or for homework. Teachers can take a pause after posing questions so all students have time to carefully consider their responses.
After school…provide a homework schedule so students learn how to manage time such that they can show their best without staying up all night.
5. Repetition is key to addressing learning loss.
We didn’t hear this as much, but we expect to hear it a lot more this Fall when standardized test scores come back and we pinpoint where the greatest learning loss happened. MindPrint research showed that students with weaker memory underperformed peers with stronger memory during the pandemic. Why? Every subject requires students to know core information at their mental fingertips. Online learning doesn’t have the natural repetition of content that comes with in-person learning without specific training which can explain a great deal of learning loss.
Teachers can…Divide learning loss between ‘not remembering’ and ‘not understanding’. Students who just forgot can make up time more efficiently with extra practice and low stakes testing. Students who need more explanation will benefit from the extra time and support to learn in a small group of students at their same mastery level. Use reliable, norm-referenced tests to ensure you are grouping students appropriately.
During summer…Determine what is most important content to know with automaticity and provide practice throughout the summer. Give small rewards to practice throughout the summer, not just cramming in one day.
Contact us today to learn more about addressing post-pandemic learning loss in the most affordable and efficient way.