School restoration strategies - doing things differently

Posted by Angela M. Prince

As I work with schools across the country, I notice three areas of need as they return to school face-to-face instruction after the pandemic. There is a need to RESTORE - Restore relationships, restore community and restore instruction. Many have not taken the time to address these areas and find themselves asking “Is it June yet?” It is important for schools to realize that they cannot return to “school as normal”; they must do things differently. They must take the best of the lessons learned from the wake of Covid 19 and embed them in the “new way” of doing things differently.

After 18 months of not being in a building face-to-face, people change and thus the need to restore relationships among administration to staff; staff to students; students to student; school to parents and community. There must be an opportunity for everyone to reconnect, learn and empathize with what transpired over those months. Schools need to restore their community - not just the community in which it resides, but the community inside of the school building. The absence of clubs, athletics and social activities has taken a toll on students. After all, it is these experiences that bring joy and excitement and makes school the place where they want to be each day. Lastly there is a need to restore the instructional loss that students endured. Yes, they received online learning, but it could never replace face-to-face instruction with their teacher, and the ability to interact and learn from and with peers.

Identifying the right programs 
As schools try to address these areas, they are questioning what are the “best programs” with the “best strategies” to purchase - and after providing “free” services during the pandemic, they are coming out of the woodwork. Schools are searching for the magic bullet. Well, I must tell you that there isn’t one. While the programs may have worked well in an online setting, we must help teachers make the transference of these tools to face-to-face instruction. How? By working with a service provider that helps schools to restore relationships, community and instruction.

As a principal of a “turnaround” school, pre-pandemic, Class Measures conducted a thorough review of my school and provided me feedback and explicit steps to transform my school. The coaches provided were educators who were experienced in the work and could understand the pressures of a school leader. Imagine having a thought partner to conduct observations with and focus on how to make learning better. Imagine having a team that will help develop explicit, measurable goals based on school needs... a team that will provide bite-size strategies that can be implemented immediately to get results…You get the picture.

Four areas of focus
To address the interruption of instruction that Covid-19 caused here are four areas school can begin to focus on. All of these areas encompass the need to restore relationships, community and instruction.

1. Support the needs of English Language Learners: Imagine how teachers could foster relationships for ELL students if teachers created instruction to include the identity and culture of the students through the fund of knowledge that the students bring to the class. Teachers must also learn from each other.

2. Conduct Effective Learning Observation: Each teacher has learned and implemented many effective strategies that should be shared with each other. Through the participation in Effective Learning Observations, teachers and staff conduct intervisitations to learn from each other and help each other to move to the next level by focusing on when learning was best for students and how it can become even better. That’s certainly a different approach to observation and feedback as this process helps build a community of learners.

3. Plan for Project-Based Learning and mastery learning: Over the past 18 months, teachers were forced to become creative and innovative in delivering engaging instruction, and now that school are face-to-face, that should not change. There has to be a laser focus on instruction that is project-based whereby students can show mastery of the standards. Infusing project-based learning is not new, but, implemented differently, schools can yield high learning achievement from students.

4. Focus on planning for ALL students: As a leader of a school, the main focus is ensuring ALL students receive a quality education that yields student achievement for proficiency and growth. Believe me, this only happens with a solid plan of action and support. I was blessed with the school review by Class Measures that provided me a solid plan of action, support and a whole lot more. The New Restoration Program that Class Measures has created is exactly what schools need to move forward and restore community, relationships and instruction within the school to increase student achievement as move create a new way of doing things differently after Covid 19.

Find out how the Class Measures restoration program has been designed to accelerate your school's capacity to implement sustainable restoration strategies in the wake of Covid-19...


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