BLOG POST BY PTAC MEMBER MISSY HALCOTT
What if we could reimagine schools? What would we do if standardized tests and grades weren't a thing? What would we, as educators, prioritize and what would we discard?
COVID-19 has humbled schools, shut their doors, and sent children to their homes to shelter; but it has not ended learning. Instead, I dare say that COVID-19 may yet revolutionize how schools run and how learning takes place for years to come.
Instead of allowing this pandemic to put an end to learning opportunities, educators have scrambled to make remote learning opportunities available to learners all over Pennsylvania. Educators have scrambled to establish connections, revitalize the relationships between families and schools, and not allow the shut down of their brick and mortar schools to shut down their efforts to educate.
Providing families with meals, technology, and supplies needed for success during this pandemic has served to center our districts as the hubs of our communities and cemented partnerships that will not easily be severed once we return to "normalcy” -whatever the new "norm" may be post COVID-19.
Without the pressure to perform and be evaluated by their students' performance on state assessments, educators have taken risks, failed forward to better engage their learners in new and untraditional ways, and exercised grace with themselves and their colleagues when these new endeavors have fallen short of perfection. Teachers are embracing opportunities to attend professional development, supporting one another in their endeavors to provide support for student growth, and implementing new learning tools and strategies to allow them to see and connect with their students despite closures.
Once this pandemic passes, it is my hope that our priorities in public education will have permanently shifted. I hope we embrace and foster these renewed partnerships between home and schools. I hope we continue to value efforts to innovate over celebrating standardized success. Most importantly, I hope we retain our focus on keeping relationships at the forefront of our educational practices. After all we've experienced and endured in the first three months of this year, I feel we will remember 2020 as the year education's purpose and vision got a whole lot clearer for all who serve and are served by our schools.
Pennsylvania Teachers Advisory Committee