Photo by Sharon McCutcheon from Pexels

As this whirlwind, unprecedented school year comes to a close, many schools are grappling with how to close out their gradebooks for the year. I have seen a variety of approaches to assessing students during this time of emergency remote teaching. These span from consolidating grading terms to marking work complete/incomplete, to more traditional grading practices with strict deadlines and penalty for non-completion. Many of the policies (thankfully) lean toward only improving student grades during the pandemic.

I wonder, though, how many schools are taking the time to assess themselves? We are in this for the long haul, and remote teaching and learning is not going to magically disappear in the Fall. How are we collecting data on our own approaches and practices during this time so that we can improve them for what will, no doubt, be an unpredictable start to the school year?

This is the perfect time for schools to be asking guardians, students, and teachers about their own experiences with learning during this time in order to streamline processes and information and improve practices.

Here are some questions to ask:

Guardians

  • How easy was it to locate your child’s schedule and daily expectations?
  • Do you think that the guidelines, norms and expectations were clearly communicated?
  • Was your child able to navigate their work independently?
  • Was the workload too heavy, too light or just right?
  • Were you comfortable with the amount of screen time expected of your child?
  • How was the balance of live classes vs recorded lessons vs independent work?
  • What kind of communication from the school and the teacher was the most helpful?
  • What were the biggest barriers to your child attending class and completing work?
  • What has been the best part of online school?
  • What has been the worst part of online school?
  • If you could change one thing about the experience, what would it be?
  • What kind of support(s) would be the most helpful as we move into the next school year?

Students

  • What was the best part of remote learning?
  • What was the worst part of remote learning?
  • How easy was it to find and follow your class and assignments schedule?
  • Was the workload too heavy, too light or just right?
  • Were you comfortable with the amount of screen time expected of you?
  • How was the balance of live classes vs recorded lessons vs independent work?
  • Which did you find more effective: live classes or recorded lessons?
  • What were the biggest barriers to attending class and completing work?
  • What kind of communication from the school and the teacher was the most helpful?
  • How would you rate your learning during this time? Did you feel that instruction and learning was as high quality as it was in the building? Why or why not?
  • If you could change one thing about your remote learning experience, what would it be?
  • What kind of support(s) would be the most helpful as we move into the next school year?

Teachers

  • What was the best part of remote teaching?
  • What was the worst part of remote teaching?
  • Was the workload too heavy, too light or just right?
  • Were you comfortable with the amount of screen time expected of you?
  • How was the balance of live classes vs recorded lessons?
  • What were the biggest barriers to running live classes?
  • Do you feel that school-wide expectations of students are clear?
  • Did you have access to adequate professional development?
  • Did you have access to the technologies and tools needed to be successful in the remote classroom?
  • Were expectations of staff clearly communicated?
  • Did the school’s approach and plan seem cohesive and easy to follow?
  • If you could change one thing about your remote learning experience, what would it be?
  • What professional development would be the most helpful to prepare for this coming school year?

In the next few weeks, schools should be surveying families and staff so that the summer can be spent revamping, revising, and providing appropriate professional development opportunities. In a perfect world, we would be doing this throughout the year as we figure out what school looks like when we are not in the building together. Nothing about this is easy, but school has always been a combined effort between home and school, and not even a pandemic can change that dynamic.

What questions would you ask?

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