Supposedly, in New York State, students in elementary, middle, and high school are going back to school. It is unclear whether that means in-person learning within the traditional large classroom set-up, online or remote learning, smaller pods in and out of the classroom, tutorials, or a hybrid of these options. 

The only thing that everyone knows is that these children need more support, more attention, and more interactive learning opportunities. While traditionally, interactive learning assumed an in person approach, the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing us to think outside the box regarding interactive learning opportunities. 

Students entering school in the fall of 2020, whether they are going to kindergarten or college, will be entering a digital-first world that will demand new skills and new ways of thinking and learning. And while the technological aspect of education will become increasingly significant, these children will still need all of the social, emotional, and academic support that they get in the traditional school and classroom experience. 

As we approach learning throughout this pandemic, students, teachers, administrators, and families will require flexibility. School will look vastly different. Students and teachers will have to rethink education, relying on new data-based technologies that will transform learning and have a significant impact on the cultures of schools for the long-term. 

What can teachers, administrators, and parents do to ensure that students are learning outside of a traditional classroom environment? 

1 – Shift from a teaching culture to a learning culture.

First and foremost, students must be empowered to learn how to learn. This can take place outside of a classroom setting and can be achieved at the student’s own pace. Teachers will be more focused on individual students, supporting them as they continue to learn. Parents will continue to assume the role of overseers and will be more connected to the daily educational process than ever before. 

2 – Learn in smaller groups. 

Under the best circumstances, small group and one-on-one instruction provides the greatest opportunity for learning, understanding complex concepts, and forming positive bonds with instructors and peers. Creating smaller instructional groups, morphing schools into learning pods, both online and in person, when safe, will not only reduce potential exposure to COVID-19 but will allow students to engage in critical thinking. Lessons can be better tailored to the needs and interests of the students, motivating students to work harder.

3 – Offer students pre-recorded video instruction with question and answer sessions. 

If students can preview video lessons and identify areas of confusion, teachers could hold question and answer sessions online to support students. This will allow students to learn directly from the teacher in two ways. First, by watching the lesson, the child will hear the lecture that the teacher was going to present in class. Second, by providing students with a separate, required, question and answer period, students will learn to pick out information that they find particularly confusing. This could be beneficial to many students who need to go back and review information before they can ask meaningful questions. This could also benefit teachers who will be able to collect data regarding their style of teaching and the effectiveness of their lessons. 

4 – Offer one-on-one instruction.

One-on-One instruction focuses on the needs of the individual and enables teachers to evaluate a student’s strengths, weaknesses, and progress. Moving school onto technological platforms will most greatly benefit the individual student, creating a process of “personalized learning.” “Personalized learning” will give each student one-on-one attention from teachers who will use real-time data to help individual students better understand curriculum content and concepts. But teachers cannot be expected to teach each student individually. That would take more hours than exist in a day. GAMECHANGER is here to support students, providing them with one-on- one, interactive instruction and truly personalizing the learning experience. 

5 – Take advantage of experiential learning opportunities. 

Since children are not necessarily going to be able to learn within the traditional classroom setting, educators have an unique opportunity to teach concepts by putting them into a more realistic, experiential context. Many students find hands-on learning more engaging and motivating. The students have an easier time understanding concepts when they are set in context. This is particularly easy to do for younger students, especially those in elementary and early middle school. A basic math lesson can be taught by having students engage in the process. Students can count how many skips it takes to get to the end of their driveway and add that number by the number of steps it takes to walk back to their front door. Science can include nature walks, finding stones and leaves and flowers. Art can include taking pictures of or drawing those stones, leaves, and flowers. Each lesson gives students the opportunity to become active participants in their learning process rather than simply collecting and memorizing information. 

While no one knows what to expect from the upcoming school year, teachers, administrators, parents, and students must team together to ensure that students remain actively engaged in learning, no matter where that learning takes place.

And remember, from preschool through post-college, GAMECHANGER is always here to help with this process.