- The sudden transition from in-person learning to remote instruction resulted in more work but with less academic rigor, according to a Cognia survey of more than 74,000 students, teachers and parentsconducted between late April and late June. Among students, the report found 80% saying they had more work in the distance learning setting.
- However, 95% of teachers said the assignments were easier or consisted of review materials, and most of them (70%) spent more time preparing instructional activities and assignments for students than they did prior to the pandemic.
- Still, 40% of parents said helping their children with schoolwork was more difficult than expected. Both parents and students, especially older ones, listed concerns about not being academically prepared for the following year, and a majority of teachers and students also faced feelings of loneliness and disconnectedness.
The report includes suggestions on tackling problems arising from distance learning, including increasing academic rigor by expanding professional development opportunities, redesigning instruction, and introducing digital learning and content tools. Routines should be established to set expectations of high standards of rigor consistent across classrooms and within grade levels. It also recommends schools capitalize on the surge of support by encouraging more engagement with both students and parents.
Michael Gaskell, principal at Hammarskjold Middle School in East Brunswick, New Jersey, wrote in April that parents are expressing a renewed appreciation of the role teachers play in their child’s lives — momentum that gives schools the opportunity to strengthen connections with parents. When parents and educators work together, children win, he says. It’s important for teachers and parents to cultivate relationships with each other through emails, conferences and even phone calls.
That increased support and appreciation for educators was also reflected in the Cognia report.
School systems are also taking additional steps to strengthen school-parent relationships. Wichita School District in Kansas, for example, offered a "Parent University," a series of online sessions for parents demonstrating how the district’s learning platform works, how to communicate with teachers and how to check on student’s assignments. Similarly, the Azusa Unified School District in Los Angeles County holds monthly virtual parent meetings to share health and wellness tips along with academic information.
Though teachers, students and parents were suddenly tossed into distance learning, which was unknown territory for most, these and other innovative solutions and practices born from the closures will likely last beyond the pandemic.