At the beginning of the week, we released a brief statement from Pivot Learning condemning the murder of Mr. George Floyd. As the week has progressed, I wanted to share some additional personal reflections.
Decades ago, I walked into my first classroom of students with emotional disturbance. The first thing I noticed was that nearly all of the students were Black males. I pointed this out to the principal who seemed a bit confused by my remark. It wasn’t a surprise to him. He just assumed it was the way things were. The kids were emotionally disturbed. Because their parents were emotionally disturbed. And their parents were disturbed because their communities were emotionally disturbed.
There was no mention of white racism. Centuries of state-sanctioned violence and oppression. Or the immense privilege of the mostly white people applying labels to Black youth that vastly diminish their chances of graduating, attending college, avoiding prison and earning a living wage—essentially the rest of the lives. I began questioning who was emotionally disturbed and who wasn’t.
We don’t need another grotesque video of the killing of yet another Black man or woman by the police to answer that question. Our racist system is emotionally disturbed. Frankly, it’s disturbing that the only times that most Americans are moved to action is when the murders of Black men and women like George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor are caught on film and provoke mass demonstrations. Really, what good is outrage unless it changes the mundane, daily manifestations of that racist system in beliefs, policies and practices? In our schools, this racism begins with the belief that Black children are not as smart and capable as white children, and exacerbates it by instructing them that they need to conform if they ever hope to succeed.
We can protest police violence and racism against Black Americans and hope that our voices, combined with many others, produce changes in policing and the criminal justice system. And, for those of us in public education, we should also be looking deeply within ourselves, questioning our beliefs, and assessing whether our “normal” practices in teaching, staffing, funding and discipline address racism and injustice or promote it. And if they do, we must end them, no matter how long we’ve done them and how hard it is to make these changes. Until we do, we should be the ones labeled emotionally disturbed.
What can we learn from California school districts’ early response to COVID-19?
Find out during this free webinar, presented by Pivot Learning and Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE). To aid in both local and state decision-making, Pivot Learning and PACE have been documenting promising practices at school districts in California. In this webinar, we’ll highlight how two districts, Pajaro Valley Unified and Mother Lode Union, initially addressed students’ immediate needs following school closures and how they are approaching strategic planning for the months ahead.
You will hear from:
Two district superintendents about how they planned their early response, what they will prioritize in their summer planning, and how they will begin to tackle the work that lies ahead in the 2020-21 school year
Speakers from the county level about how county and state agencies can best collaborate with school districts in the upcoming months
Pivot Learning researchers about the findings from our research briefs about these two districts
Join us for a discussion about the challenges and the early problem-solving that we have seen at the local level in the early stages of COVID-19 response.
Take a look at the latest updates and information about how Pivot Learning, our subsidiary CORE, and our partners are continuing to support educators, students, and families during the COVID-19 crisis. We’re excited to share our free Equitable Learning Recovery Toolkit created in collaboration with UnboundEd, insights from experts about the initial challenges and needed district supports for English Learners, our dyslexia and word-reading difficulties online resource library, and much more.
Webinar Date & Time: June 11, 2020 | 1:00 – 2:15 p.m. PT
How will you ensure teachers and students have access to high-quality instructional materials that support distance learning this fall?
This spring, COVID-19 changed our collective expectations for teaching and learning. School closures resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic have forced educators to face innumerable challenges. One of the more persistent challenges: adapting instructional materials for distance learning.
Join this webinar with the California Department of Education and CalCurriculum to get advice for implementing a data-driven plan for fall ELA and math instruction that provides access to high-quality materials to every student regardless of their distance learning situation.
In this webinar you’ll:
Reflect on the current context for distance learning
Review the role of instructional materials in distance learning
Assess the quality of your materials and prepare those materials for distance learning
Discover supports available to help with planning for the beginning of next school year
If you are unable to join the live webinar, you’ll find the recording posted to the CDE COVID-19 webinars page following the live event.
Among the students who have been impacted most by COVID-19 school closures and the move to remote learning are those with learning disabilities such as dyslexia and other word-reading difficulties. To help educators better understand these students’ challenges and prevent skill deficits from becoming large achievement gaps next fall, Pivot Learning and our subsidiary, the Consortium on Reaching Excellence in Education, has created an online resource library. In it, you’ll find foundational information to build knowledge of dyslexia and word-reading difficulties along with resources to inform more effective, evidence-based instruction.
Resource Library Sneak Peek
Whitepaper: Understanding Dyslexia: Why Early Prevention and Intervention are Crucial
Webinar: Understanding Dyslexia: How to Identify, Prevent, and Remediate Word-Level Reading Difficulties
Infographic: 8 Guidelines to Identify, Assess, and Support Students with Dyslexia
At the end of a typical school year, districts and schools are in the throes of assessing for student growth, planning teacher professional development, and laying the groundwork for a successful school year.
But 2019-20 was no ordinary school year.
District leaders need to look back and reflect on what happened, how it impacted instruction and learning, and how they can prepare teachers to make up learning loss next year through equitable instruction, keeping in mind that learning could continue remotely.
Download our Equitable Learning Recovery Toolkit, which includes everything you need to conduct surveys with all stakeholders about teaching and learning this spring and synthesize that data to guide professional development and lesson planning for next fall. Also watch the on-demand recording of our webinar, “Finishing the Unfinished: Tools to Create an Equitable Learning Recovery Plan,” for more background on the purpose of the toolkit and how to implement it in your district or school.
Download Your Equitable Learning Recovery Toolkit
The toolkit will download as a zip file. Unzip the file to access the full toolkit PDF as well as the teacher, student, parent/guardian, and coach/student leader surveys.
Once you’ve completed this toolkit, be on the lookout for a second one from Pivot Learning and UnboundEd. The next toolkit will help you continue this important work by putting together a plan to launch equitable instruction and learning this fall.
Pivot and UnboundEd strive to help districts ensure educational equity for all students. Pivot partners with educators to design and implement solutions for achieving educational justice. UnboundEd offers training and tools to empower educators to center equity in their instructional practices.
Have questions about the toolkit or about working with Pivot and UnboundEd to ensure equitable curriculum adoption and implementation next year? Complete the form below and we’ll get in touch!
In this interview with Dr. Kelly Stuart and Dr. Gina Fugnitto of Collaborative Classroom, Dr. Rodriguez and Linda Diamond share their insights about the current reality of distance learning, how and why SIPPS is a key component of PVUSD’s impressive achievements in improving student literacy outcomes, and how a strong change-management approach has positioned PVUSD for long-term success.
While there are needs in every grade level, elementary school students are especially vulnerable to learning loss in critical literacy skills. Students in grades K–2 who need explicit systematic instruction are likely missing out on mastering foundational skills, while interventions for older readers (grades 3–5) are not intense enough to meet student needs exacerbated by school closures. In addition, many students do not have access at home to the volume of reading or writing materials they need to be proficient readers and writers. Finally, as we talk to educators, we hear about the significant trauma that they, along with their students, are experiencing during this unprecedented time.
We at Pivot Learning, CORE, and Center for the Collaborative Classroom have taken this time to examine our own practices with a critical eye, looking for ways to better equip educators with the tools and support they need to connect with a diverse student population that has been adversely affected by school closures. When we look ahead, we understand school will likely look different in ways we cannot even imagine.
To support our educator partners, we offer guidance and resources that can be used over the summer and taken into the fall to support students both academically and socially. Here is what we believe is essential for making sure our students don’t fall behind.
Since schools were closed two months ago to curb the spread of the coronavirus, changes have come so fast it has been difficult to get our bearings. But as the educational picture has come into focus, it is clear that students are losing critical months of learning. The students who can least afford to lose that learning — English Learners, foster youth and students with disabilities — are taking the biggest hits. Addressing this situation will take state leadership.
The planning should begin with recognizing the limits of virtual learning. Overburdened parents are thankful for anything that engages their children, but ensuring availability of internet access and devices are the just the first steps. Every other element is dependent on the capacity of teachers, students and parents.
Distance learning is difficult enough for middle-class parents in a single-family home, but it is far more difficult for low-income families in smaller residences — not to mention homeless families. For students with disabilities such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or autism, the situation may be untenable educationally and emotionally. Nor can we expect non-English speaking parents to teach their children English. The longer we stay in this situation, the more we will deepen the structural and racial inequities in our education system.
Given this harm, education leaders must shift their focus to the summer and fall. There is likely to be some level of distance learning during the next school year, but districts should not be scrambling to provide devices and hotspots; that should be a state responsibility.
It’s May — almost the end of the school year. In an ordinary year, districts and schools would be in the throes of assessing for student growth, planning teacher professional development and laying the groundwork for a successful school year.
But this is no ordinary year.
Educators everywhere have had to make unprecedented shifts to teaching and learning during coronavirus school closures. Priorities have changed from helping students master things like sight words and multiplication tables to protecting the basic health and safety of staff, students and their families. As districts worked to meet a new hierarchy of needs, they had to prioritize their actions to ensure that very real and basic multidimensional needs — from healthy meals to internet and device access — were met throughout their communities.
Given the disruption COVID-19 caused to teaching and learning, schools will be finishing out the year with significant unfinished instruction and learning. Students will advance to higher grade levels next fall without ever having been taught important grade-level concepts or assessed to demonstrate proficiency of required skills.
Now that the year is ending, district leaders need to look back and reflect on what happened, how it impacted instruction and learning, and how they can prepare teachers to make up learning loss next year, keeping in mind that learning could continue remotely. Most importantly, educators need to answer this key question: “How can we understand where our students are in terms of their learning, and how we can support educators over the summer to address those unmet needs through an equitable lens?”
Develop a Data-Informed Equitable Learning Recovery Plan
Fallout from COVID-19 has exacerbated the existing disparities in our education systems, which threatens to further widen the opportunity gap. System leaders everywhere have a duty to ensure that learning outcomes for the most vulnerable students are not disproportionately affected. And to ensure that, system leaders should utilize multiple measures of data. These measures should include what Victoria L. Bernhardt calls the four major measures of data: student learning, demographics, perceptions, and school processes. Assessment and analysis of these four measures will enable educators to paint a more complete picture of what happened during these last few months and better understand students’ needs and how to address them.
We have put together a toolkit to support school districts in conducting a learning recovery assessment and gathering data to answer the following questions:
For students — What do you know about their access to and experience with high-quality, engaging and standards-aligned ELA and Math instruction since March?
For teachers — What ELA and Math materials have teachers taught since March? What did they not get to? How has the system supported their learning?
For parents — What has been their experience with this transition to remote learning?
Join our upcoming webinar, “Finishing the Unfinished: Tools to Create an Equitable Learning Recovery Plan,” Wednesday, May 13 at 12:00 PT to learn more about conducting this assessment and get actionable tools to help you develop a data-informed plan to equitably address unfinished teaching and learning.