Education during COVID-19 — and COVID’s lingering impact on learning post-pandemic — will likely be researched and studied for years to come. One such study was conducted recently by Next Generation Learning Challenges, which surveyed 70 schools and districts in 2020 and 2021 who, despite genuine challenges, were having some successes. The key question was: how and why were these schools and districts succeeding despite distance learning issues and other pandemic obstacles? This is reflected in the final report’s title, “What Made Them So Prepared?”
The full report was released today and it’s a fascinating study. From NGLC’s press release, I’ll quote three big themes that emerged from their findings:
- The common-sense assertion: To help students become capable, caring, self-directed learners and creative problem-solvers, our schools should model those same attributes for them – in their design of learning, but also in our adult working culture and operating habits.
- The research finding: Schools and districts that had made this commitment pre-COVID strongly benefited from it during the pandemic, enabling our communities (including students) to respond adaptively and creatively. Agentic learning and operating approaches, efforts to create a healthy culture supported by strong relationships, and resilient, flexible systems made districts feel prepared to face the pandemic’s many challenges.
- The value to ALL schools and districts: Ed leaders seeking positive ways to move past Omicron and rebuild forward momentum can use this project’s findings and resources to build on their own school or district’s examples of resilient, adaptive innovation during the pandemic. This research offers a productive way forward at a time of urgent need.
One of these 70 schools and districts that NGLC picked to interview was Shelby County Public Schools, and we are highlighted in their report! SCPS is mentioned briefly on page 9 (PDF page 5) as one of several districts that have a Profile of a Graduate, but more prominently, we are featured on page 7 (PDF page 4) for our two “Shelby Speaks” vodcast series that we uploaded to our YouTube channel in May 2020 and January 2021. I was proud to co-create and facilitate these interviews with our fantastic SCPS educators from many different role groups — general education, ECE, English Language, librarians and more — who shared their reflections on tips, tricks, strategies, successes and challenges of distance and hybrid learning. (For more on these vodcasts, please read my blog entries here and here.)
We are thankful to NGLC for the chance to contribute to such a historical project, and I encourage you to read their full report.