Early last year we saw schools closing and we said, "It'll be a few weeks, then everything will be back to normal." Then Summer came, and things didn't change, and we thought, "surely by Fall the kids will head back to the classrooms!" Fall came and still, we held out hope. But things didn't get better, and now here we are, in the first month of a new year and we're realizing that things aren't going "back".
We can safely assume students will not be returning to their classrooms regularly in the near future. This understanding, coupled with the overwhelming number of failing students across the country, must be taken as a call for immediate educational adaptation.
The "treading water" tactic is no longer an option, students, teachers, and parents alike are growing weary of unsustainable online-school practices. Survival-mode has begun to affect the educational success of America's children. It's time to accept that they will not be back in the classroom anytime soon and adapt to the new reality.
A December 2020 article from the Voice of America states that many school districts are sitting at approximately 40% fail rates, with many students earning straight 0's. Schools in Oregon, New Mexico, Texas, and Minnesota have all reported 40% and above failure rates. Which, according to one school in Oregon, is a 38% increase from their yearly average.
And now is the time to do it. The way we view the educational process needs to change in a big way. How and why you ask? First, let's dive into the key reasons "why?"
Why are such high percentages of students across the entire country failing?
The mystery of the failing students seems to have as many layers as your Grandmother's baklava. However, here are the most common failure-driving factors:
Absolute or consistent student absence
Zoom cameras off
Lack of participation
Inability to reach students
Inability to reach teachers
Difficulty getting questions answered in class
Confusing in-class instruction and
Too few office hours
The next question then becomes, "how?" How do we factor this knowledge into a strategy that will result in real, sustainable, and effective change? Let's talk about change and change theory.
In 1947 Kurt Lewin presented a change theory that is incredibly applicable to the current educational situation. Lewin's theory is broken into three different stages: Unfreezing, Change, Refreezing.
1. Unfreezing: a. Acknowledging the need for change. b. Replacing old ideas and behaviors with sustainable ones 2. Changing:
a. Encourage change implementation through specific actions
b. Create a plan for social diffusion
a. Cement the new behavior
b. Leadership integrate the new behavior into everyday living
Essentially, we need to admit there is a problem, find a viable solution, translate the solution into easily adoptable behaviors and actions, establish the new behaviors as the social norms and cement them. For the current crisis, the change would need to address behaviors affecting attendance, participation, and communication. In the subsequent posts, we will explore how the above concerns could possibly be broken down into behaviors, and how those behaviors might be altered to bring about positive social change, and more effective resource utilization.
Back to Grandma's Baklava, remember how when you would sink your teeth in, the bite would reveal all of the different layers and fillings? That's what we're gonna do to the current educational situation. We're going to take a huge bite, expose the layers and fillings, see what they're made of, and figure out how we can make them better. Unlike Grandma's recipe, which of course could never be improved upon. And there's that for now. Until' next time!
Questions, comments to ideas? Drop them below, we'd love to hear from you!