For many years, K-12 education's focus has circled around proficiency. However, the pandemic has forced everyone, from policymakers to EdTech companies, to expand that view. The challenge today must be two-fold: to address both proficiency and well-being, not just for all students, but for all teachers as well. Specifically, there needs to be a focus on the present to help drive simplicity in EdTech, respect for teachers and equity for all if we wish to usher in a new era of education.
EdTech Made Simpler
There's no way to truly scale and support student and teacher well-being unless technology is continuously evolving and implemented, both in and outside the classroom. This became clear in the spring of 2020 as educators looked to rapidly implement remote learning programs that ensured quality learning for their students.
A recent survey from Cambium Learning Group found that managing various technology tools was a challenge for 33% of district leaders since the start of the pandemic. Through this trial and error process, teachers have expressed the need for a smaller number of simpler products and services that work and ones they feel confident using in their classrooms every day. To reach this level of certainty and simplicity, teachers and district leaders are looking for companies that deliver on their promises, not just today but tomorrow and every day moving forward.
Through the offerings of our companies, Cambium has intentionally assembled a comprehensive yet focused array of EdTech solutions and care-focused services for teacher and student growth, each of which facilitates tailored experiences in simple, certain and immediate ways.
Respect and Support for Teachers
While identifying the most impactful technologies for teachers to work with their students is important, those tools are only one part of the equation to overall success. According to a recent survey from the National Education Association, 32% of members are considering leaving the profession earlier than anticipated due to the pandemic. These findings are alarming and teachers need to be respected and supported.
We often hear teachers lauded as "superheroes," but without receiving equitable professional support, such accolades ring hollow. The reality is that teachers are pressured to meet the academic and wellness needs of their students, but who is looking out for teachers? One way Cambium is stepping up is through our LETRS professional learning program. Used by thousands of districts nationwide, LETRS is helping teachers bring the science of reading into their classrooms at a time their students need it most
Improving the way educators are treated won't happen overnight and will require a tremendous effort that is multifaceted and includes political funding. However, having the will to value and ensure teacher well-being and respect is the first step.
Putting Emphasis on the Present
The pandemic illuminated and exacerbated the vast inequities that have always existed in the U.S. education system. The discourse around technology quickly pivoted to availability, as educators were tasked with ensuring all students had access to a computer or reliable internet connection. Additionally, district leaders had to consider potentially problematic factors such as budget, affordability and possible IT challenges. These challenges and difficult conversations further amplified the need for equity to be at the forefront of decisions guiding changes in education.
As a beacon of hope for the future, the same study from Cambium Learning Group found that 89% of educators eventually felt adequate support from their state-level government leaders who helped navigate school closures and the impact of the pandemic. From this we learned that creating experiences that teachers and learners can benefit from today and build on tomorrow will help everyone make the most of each moment they invest in education. As education companies think about how to improve the well-being of teachers and students, different realities need to be seen and embraced to ensure equitable learning experiences.
At Cambium, we're dedicated to better supporting teachers and students through simpler EdTech products and services that drive equity for all. A big focus in the education space is on "growing the leaders of tomorrow." But at Cambium, our products are designed to make the most of learning in the moment today, tomorrow and the next day. After all, our hope is to help make the "new normal" in education a more innovative and supportive system for all.