Teaching During COVID-19 (Part I)
Updated: Jul 27, 2020
For most school districts across Pennsylvania, the school year has ended. What a strange, difficult, and unimaginable year it was with so many unknowns regarding the start of the upcoming 2020-2021 school year. The point of this post is to reflect on the teaching and learning victories and struggles that we faced during the COVID-19 school shutdown.
As expected, school districts across the state experienced the pandemic in all different ways--it is easy to infer that these experiences are based on the socio-economic status (SES) unique to each school district, which appears to be the case. While we recognize that many factors contribute to students’ success during their school experiences, there is a positive correlation between SES and student achievement, which has seemingly been exacerbated during the unexpected school closures.
Two hours away from our university town is a school district, where we provide professional development experiences to teachers who are working to incorporate language learning strategies into their science curriculum as a part of the Science 20/20 project. The town where this school district is located is considered a new immigrant destination as the town has experienced a dramatic population shift in recent years. With the shift in population came a change in the ways students use language in the schools.
Because the majority of the new population speaks mostly Spanish, teachers are finding that their classes are now composed of students whose first language is not English. This district does not have a K-12, 1:1 technology initiative, and therefore, was unable to provide devices for students to use at home in order to resume instruction. As a result, teachers were asked to create instructional packets to copy and distribute to families in order to ensure some level of consistency in instruction. As you might imagine, the lack of technology available to students was considered a major barrier by many teachers.
Our two Science 20/20 student teachers placed with mentor teachers in this school district, Melanie Marcano and Carolyn Stoughton, decided to create and share Youtube videos for their students in order to provide supplemental instruction. Melanie and Carolyn are both bilingual English and Spanish speakers and were able to create bilingual instructional videos across the curricular areas for their students. The following two blog posts will include their reflections from the field as they made their way through an extraordinary student teaching experience.