As we reach the end of the year and think about 2020 in education, the elephant in the room must be acknowledged. Whatever educators, students, and families had planned back in January quickly became irrelevant on March 11th when the WHO declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. Seemingly overnight, everything changed, and nine months later, we’re still figuring out how to exist in this world, one announcement or news story away from another major shift to daily life. And many educators and students are caught in the middle, struggling with decisions that can result in daunting challenges. It has not been an easy year, and 2021 will start with much of the same.
How will educators manage the learning loss that we now know has taken place? What about the students who haven’t been attending school, whether virtual or in person—how can educators reach them? What can be done differently (and safely) for the students/families that are struggling with distance/hybrid/in-person learning? What about students with special needs, low-income students, students who lack Internet/device access? Many existing problems have been thrust into a bigger spotlight with an increased sense of urgency to resolve them, and at a time when life is uniquely stressful for nearly everyone.
But there are signs of good changes and developments on the horizon. A new president and secretary of education mean new guidance and policies, and possibly more funding. There are multiple vaccine options, and public health experts expect most people in the US to have access to one in the next few months. Distance learning has been happening long enough that many educators, students, and families have figured out how to make it work well for them. And we’ve finally reached the end-of-year break that gives both educators and students some much needed time to recharge.
As we approach the end of the year and beginning of another, let’s explore 2020 in education by sharing our most popular articles of the year.
Where Learning Clicks’s Year in Review: 2020 in Education and EdTech
Month after month, visitors have read our articles aimed at supporting teachers, administrators, students, and families through this period in time. In the spring, it was how do we keep students learning during a school closure? When we first saw the need for this guidance, we put together a few articles sharing tips for learning during a closure. Many educators already had some familiarity with using education technology to learn, so we also moved our focus to helping parents, many of whom were juggling trying to work while their kids were learning at home.
Once the school year ended, other concerns arose. Should we be concerned about the increase in screen time? With a new crop of students coming in, how can teachers build relationships with them and their families? How can educators use resources and formal professional development to prepare for this new teaching environment? And with normal schooling disrupted, how can educators effectively measure growth and progress, and intervene to offer extra help when needed?
Readers were also interested in making the distance and hybrid learning environments work with their students: articles about setting goals, academic integrity, and celebrating successes in online learning were some of our most-read. Another popular article shared guidance for discussing politics with students, an especially relevant need during a presidential election year.
Another huge area of interest was tending to students’ social, emotional, and basic needs. And in a similar vein, throughout the year, one of our most popular articles was about how valuable it is for educators to be vulnerable with their students. Especially this year, when it’s gotten more difficult for teachers to spot and help with issues students are experiencing, opening up to them so they feel safe opening up to you is critical.
And lastly, our two most popular articles this year were one in which we interviewed teachers from around the country to learn more about why they teach, and another in which we showcased great examples of teacher appreciation during the pandemic. During an incredibly challenging year, people may have been looking for reminders of why they keep doing the work they love to do, and hopefully, these articles offered those.
What will 2021 have in store for students and educators? It’s hard to say. Many schools and districts will be returning to school next month virtually, perhaps for the first time this academic year. Students will still be dealing with learning loss, which may impact their education for years to come. Some educators will still feel ill-prepared to participate in distance or hybrid learning.
Hopefully the potential for change will resolve some of these problems and make the ones that remain easier to tackle. Whatever happens, we are here to help you educate your students and give your staff the flexible learning tools and resources they need to ease their burdens. As we say goodbye to 2020 in education and generally, we hope you enjoy some much-needed rest and downtime and enjoy your holidays, however you celebrate.