Learning loss is a hot topic these days. It's a gap between what is expected for students to know and the basic skills they exhibit.
Gaps sound like something is missing. Not right. Plain wrong with our learners. But is there something genuinely wrong with our students right now? Or is it the gap we create?
Learning can't be lost if it never took place in the first place.
The lack of academic and social skills educators expect students to have but don't is felt by all educators around the globe. Third graders are reading at a pre-primer level. First graders don't know how to write their names and hold their pencils correctly. Across all ages, students either don't know how to work in a team or have forgotten.
Despite my modeling teamwork, a third-grader asked me this week, "But, Mrs. Hall, how do I work with my team?" The effects of the pandemic left gaps in learning and social skills. Many students have worked by themselves for over a year. Teamwork is foreign.
Many school leaders make it sound like the solution is for all educators to pour into students and fill them up with lost knowledge and skills. Viola! In a matter of months, a two-year crisis can be caught up. Sounds ridiculous, right? Because it is. They liken our students to being empty vessels to fill up. It doesn't work that way. All learning is a process. It takes time, repetition, and experience.
Yet, educators rise! Educators access every resource at their disposal to help students learn. Learning loss isn't lost on educators. It happens every summer. But this gap is more dramatic. It will take more time. It's not a microwave fix. Everyone wants a harvest tomorrow. First we have to sow seeds, nurture, wait, and repeat. Getting our students up to par takes time.
Teaching is harder than ever right now. There is a substitute shortage, teacher shortage, and bus driver shortage. You're filling in for others all while you're told to make up learning loss. The gap. Truth is...
you're standing in the gap for your colleagues and learners. It just looks differently than what's expected.
Let's not lose hope. What did our students learn through the pandemic? What new skills do they have? Capitalize on them.
Educators can focus on the gap-- learning loss or focus on moving forward with their students.
Gaps are a funny thing. They will get filled. Take my lawn, for instance. Every time there is a gap in the yard, the weeds fill it. Unless I'm intentional about filling the gap, something else will. Usually less desirable.
So, we have a choice. Fill the gap with bitterness, complaining, and frustration, or solutions that capitalize on all students' strengths and embrace every intervention at our disposal.
Let's fill the gap with actions that point to the measurable results we want. If we don't intentionally fill the gap, something else will. From the top-down, educators need to stop talking about loss. Let's look forward instead of through the rear-view mirror.
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