The short answer to the question posed in our episode title: Yes. We are all shaped by our experiences, and during the past two years, our students have experienced unique—and oftentimes unprecedented—educational experiences. This has impacted who they have become as people and students. In this podcast episode, we are once again joined by Cherie Spencer, Social and Emotional Learning Coordinator from Galveston, Texas. Together, we discuss how the past two years of pandemic learning have impacted and shaped our students and what that means for education.
Throughout our conversation, we discuss the impact of transitioning back to face-to-face learning after stints of hybrid, fully distanced, or socially distanced in-person learning. We acknowledge that the impact is real. In many cases, freshmen are now seniors who have not had a typical high school experience. Second graders are much like kindergarten students who need to learn what it means to be in a physical school setting. We’ll discuss how this has impacted students socially, emotionally, and academically, as well as what that means for education moving forward and what we can do to make a positive difference.
Student choice is more than simply choosing a topic. It is about empowering students through the entire learning process.
John Spencer, college professor and author
The following resources are available on AVID Open Access to explore this topic in more depth:
- Accelerate Learning by Building on Student Assets (article)
- Accelerate Learning by Making Connections: Build Trust Through Relationships, Community, and Connection (article)
- Accelerate Learning by Focusing on Assets and Opportunities, Not Deficits (article)
- Create Community and Nurture Connections to Support Social and Emotional Learning (article collection)
- Deepen Connections to Accelerate Learning (article collection)
Using Our Experience to Support Students
Teachers are amazing, and it’s important to remember the skill and efficiency that they have demonstrated while totally flipping an education system within weeks and providing students with ongoing and varied opportunities to learn. It’s also important to remember the skills that teachers bring to the table every day and how these same skills and tools can be used to address the new challenges faced with students returning from distance or hybrid learning. Throughout this episode, we discuss strategies that teachers can use to support their students as they transition through various learning models. Some of these strategies include the following:
- Listen: We can learn so much from our students. We must take time to allow students to talk about their COVID experience and find out how they would like us to support them. Allow them the opportunity to voice their story and experience and to share how they would like educators to support them.
- Give Them a Voice: Listening also means giving students meaningful voice throughout the learning process and valuing their preferences. This can be implemented through inquiry learning, project-based learning, student projects, and more. Students have gotten used to having more autonomy during distance and hybrid learning, and they want to continue having ownership in their learning.
- Know Them: We must put Maslow before Bloom. In other words, before students can thrive academically, they need to feel trusted, loved, and supported. Once again, relationships are the foundation upon which everything else is built. The core of culturally relevant teaching is getting to know your students.
- Give Them a Safe Space: Because students need to reacclimate to a physical classroom experience, we need to give them a safe space to practice and learn the skills necessary for success. We can structure experiences where they can role-play and practice these face-to-face interactions. We can also make sure they know that it’s okay to fail, get back up, and try again.