This post is week 3 of 8 in the #8WeeksofSummer Blog Challenge for educators. This week’s prompt is to describe new or additional supports your learners needed this year.
Wow, this is difficult to answer. There were so many needs–
- Physical needs – I think especially of sicknesses due to Covid infections in staff, family and students, sometimes affecting large groups of family members at the same time. There were a few deaths of family members during the year from Covid-19, so that has certainly affected our community. Children and teens, too, sometimes had to miss classes due to Covid. Of course, when they were sick at home, they did not have to turn in their assignments on time or be expected to attend classes. One good thing is we did not have any Covid outbreaks at school. We did daily testing of staff members, and all the students who had permission to be tested. Strict protocols were maintained, and school was closed several times during the year “in an abundance of caution,” as the emails always read. (An aside: Especially in the last two months, children started getting Covid. We have a high vaccination rate among adults here, but our young people are spreading the highly contagious Delta variant. Therefore, the country has been on lockdown since June 1. The Delta variant is starting to spread in the U.S. Please keep getting vaccinated!)
- Social and emotional needs – It was evident that some students were struggling. One way we tried to help was the pro-active way the social counselors did their jobs this year. They were added to the schedule and taught regular classes for all the grade levels. They made a lot of phone calls, but, of course, some children did not get the support they needed because we didn’t know about their needs.
- Academic needs – One way we identified academic needs in the elementary was to do DIBELS screenings for all students in grades 1, 2, and 3. I was the volunteer reading interventionist this year, as I did not sign my contract last year, thinking we were going to be leaving in December. Instead we stayed one more year, and I was happy to help at my school. After identifying the students who needed extra support, we invited them to join the S.T.A.R. program (Speaking, Thinking And Reading). I would work for six sessions at a time on thinking, speaking and foundational skills they were missing on the DIBELS. It was very successful. After six sessions, I would retest students. If needed, they could continue my program. This was besides their regular English classes on their light class days. (Students had two full days and two partial virtual days. The last day of the week was a makeup day. We would meet on their partial days.)
- Technology needs – When we were sent home on 26 February 2020, some people did not have laptops. It did not take our school long to jump into action. They dismantled the desktop computers we still had been using at school for all the teachers. They offered these free to any family who needed one for pick up or delivery. They purchased laptops for the teachers. There were helplines available during school hours and after for families who needed help. Our computer teachers staffed the helplines. We got Google Classroom for KG-grade 12, and teachers were trained on it before the 2020-21 school year began. It was determined the laptops they purchased were not powerful enough (is that the word?) so this summer we had to return them, and they will all get an upgraded hard drive.
I’m not sure we know all the support students needed, but in these unprecedented times, I was proud of the effort of all of our departments and our senior leadership team.
What else am I forgetting? What would you write for #5 listing student needs?