I visited a hybrid third-grade classroom yesterday. It was amazing. Students were working on two-step problems. They recorded their thinking on Pear Deck. The teacher then shared everyone’s work and asked students to take a look and think about a piece they wanted to talk about. And they did! One student noted that their equation was different than a classmate’s. Another student noted that his diagram was almost the exact same as someone else’s diagram. The teacher then shared her own thinking and highlighted approaches that worked and things that didn’t. She asked them what they might do differently and engaged them with a new problem. But that’s not all. The class started with an interactive number routine and ended with a closing reflection.

Has everyday gone that well over the past 12 months? I’m sure it hasn’t. But as I’ve visited many classrooms – virtually and in person – over the past two months and something has clearly popped. Students HAVE learned so much. I’ve seen kindergarten students log on to learning management systems, navigate websites, use the chat box, and remind classmates that they were muted. All by themselves. What’s my point you ask? Well, it’s simple. The rhetoric for the last 12 months has been mostly about the failing of our teachers, our schools, our districts, and ultimately our students. There has been great fear about “learning loss.” Yet, it’s rarely noted that students at any grade have more advanced technology skills than their same-grade peers of just two years ago. AND let’s not forget that math has been taught…. and learned.

So, as leaders we go into the summer working to make plans for the coming year. We look to plan professional learning, design messages, and acquire resources. And as we go into this time, it seems critical that we rethink and reframe what has happened these past 12 months. Because it is needed. And because it is true as I was reminded in a recent article, Our Kids are Not Broken. We can and must remind all stakeholders of the success that has occurred and what has been learned. We must also build on our students’ strengths. We must think about the statements that will drive our work. And through my readings and learning, I have been able to work with district colleagues to shape our driving statements. We have started with those below. What might you change or add?

  1. Know who each and every student is and where they are academically.
  2. Build and maintain positive relationships with students.
  3. Ensure that each and every student has access to on-grade level standards.
  4. Provide high quality first instruction with equity and inclusion.