#53 – Managing Academic Transitions After a Disruptive Year of Learning

Unpacking Education August 18, 2021 22 min

In the third part of our Managing Transitions series to help prepare you for heading back to school, we explore how we talk about the psychological and situational changes that we need to address as students return for this academic year. Transitions are a part of life. We transition between subject areas and activities on a daily basis. Transitions call for structured space and need to be practiced with students so that they can learn to make transitions on their own.

Many teachers and their students will be going back to face-to-face learning. Join us to explore how we can leverage transitions this year to focus on accelerating learning. We talk about how we can flip the deficit mindset associated with “learning loss” to reframe how we engage students with language that reinforces their self-worth, confidence, and self-motivation. To inspire and motivate students to move forward, we need to take advantage of these transitions to build them up, partner with them, and help them believe that they will succeed.

Paul Beckermann
PreK-12 Digital Learning Specialist
Rena Clark
STEM Facilitator and Digital Learning Specialist
Dr. Winston Benjamin
Social Studies and English Language Arts Facilitator

…Change is situational. Transition, on the other hand, is psychological. It is not those events, but rather the inner reorientation and self-redefinition that you have to go through in order to incorporate any of those changes into your life. Without transition, a change is just a rearrangement of the furniture. Unless transition happens, the change won’t work, because it doesn’t ‘take’.

William Bridges, author of Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes

Managing Transitions to Accelerate Learning

As we have navigated a year filled with changes and unknowns, we recognize that our students are returning this academic year with experiences that have shaken their routines, impacted their families, and changed the way they view and interact with their environment. Our focus from the start of the school year needs to be on building relationships, bolstering students’ confidence, and creating safe spaces where students can succeed.

As we shift our thinking from worrying about what our students didn’t learn during the pandemic to instead focusing on how to accelerate learning, the following approaches have been proven effective:

  • Develop strong relationships with supportive school environments.
  • Provide high-dosage tutoring that is directly tied to classroom content, especially in the areas of math and reading.
  • Provide extended interventions, like weeklong acceleration academies that are staffed with highly effective teachers.
  • Develop strong norms and routines to provide stability.
  • Implement strong monitoring systems to facilitate prompt and timely interventions.
  • Streamline the focus to grade-level power standards.
  • Focus on student strengths while addressing prerequisite skill gaps based on short, formative assessments.
  • Align coursework to student interests.
  • Apply Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS).
  • Prioritize executive function skills.