If there is one thing Covid-19 has revealed in the education system, it is that one size does not fit all. This goes for teachers, students, administrators, parents and communities.
Covid has brought unthinkable challenges, but many schools and staff have changed and learned to adapt to our new normal. What took years of legislation and board meetings is now happening in weeks, sometimes even days. The ability to cut red tape has helped our school systems transform faster than any legislative session or board meeting.
The crazy part about this whole mess is that all of these options have been available for years; we were just afraid of change. What Covid did was erase that fear and made us all think about the possibilities that exist if we remove the bureaucracy.
Educators have been learning for years about virtual teaching, personalized learning, non-traditional teaching methods, mastery learning, the use of technology to initiate real learning and many more new practices. educational. The ability of educators to build their capacity during a global pandemic shows their true spirit. Covid and the restrictions in place have prompted educators in Arkansas to put all the things we’ve learned into practice and try new things. It allowed teachers and administrators to learn from online platforms in a matter of days, to switch from traditional learning to virtual learning in the same day, to work many more hours than usual, to create new schedules, serving their students in new ways, taking on new mandates, dealing with sick children, show up earlier and stay later, and much more.
Change is difficult, but it is necessary in education. We must continue to push and mold our education system to meet the needs of our communities and our state, but most importantly of our learners. When the pandemic is over, we must continue to build our schools with a new vision for the 21st century. We must not forget all the systems we are building because of the pandemic, but on the contrary make those systems even better.
We must also honor our teachers. These teachers need more benefits, such as paid child care, better wages, better tax credits, student loan forgiveness, and a guarantee for affordable health care. Teachers, since March, have been guiding our communities, and they deserve to be taken care of. The pandemic has shown us all the true value of a professional and certified educator. It’s time to move education forward while taking care of our teachers. They are on the front line every day. Whether we have covid-19 or not, let’s treat them like professionals.
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John Unger of Fayetteville is the principal of West Fork Middle School for grades 5-8. He is also a professional member of the Association of American Educators and AAE Fellow.