Now is the time. We must interrogate our belief systems that are tied to education in order to move forward and BE BETTER. But what does, “be better” really mean? Educators tend to cringe when something cannot be measured and calculated, so the simple “be better” can cause anxiety since it’s not wrapped in a pretty bow with a price tag. But that anxiety is okay… actually, it’s GREAT. It means the status quo is being challenged, and that’s step one.

The steps and stages of shifting mindsets and behaviors do not come naturally (at first). Research shows that it takes about 10 weeks to break a habit. So, if you believe your brain can make a U-Turn by reading one article that perked your ears, think again.

Imagine this necessary shift as a spiral (as opposed to the embedded structure which resembles a linear line), and on each row of the spiral, there are different elements which repeat – readings, conversations, reflections, readings, conversations, reflections, and so on. It’s intentional and ever-evolving.

You can use your learnings from the spiral to do something pragmatic, which starts with planning. To create an effective plan to accelerate your students’ learning in a covid world, you must first place high value on the shared experiences this time has created. We all have gone through something we hadn’t before, and analyzing that piece of the puzzle is the stepping stone of where we need to go. Some students had more responsibilities at home, some got more attention from parents and caregivers, some got less. Some read more, some didn’t read at all – let’s value the experiences learners had and build upon that learning.

Teachers must be observers and use this knowledge to create the plan of where students are, where they need to be, and the 2-3 steps on how to get there in the short term. Don’t worry about filling in all the gaps to the next grade level. Celebrate small wins! Give students the power of realizing that the lesson is achievable. Here’s a simple three-step process to follow:

  • Understand the standards of the grade level (what are the big concepts to understand?).
  • Identify skills students have/don’t have for what needs to be immediately achieved.
  • Take Action on what needs to be done to get students to where they need to go.

As educators, we are plagued with perfection constraints, which is why we so often bail quickly on new paradigms because they didn’t work immediately. NOW IS THE TIME TO MAKE MISTAKES! Be vulnerable! Ask your students what’s working and not working. Add these conversations to your spiral of improvement and reflect on them. Remember, the goal is to BE BETTER (not perfect).