At Maple Bear, our teachers often get asked by worried parents: “How will you cover all the content knowledge that children have missed?”
This is a valid question during an uncertain time.
We want to reassure our parents that our teachers know how to deal with these learning gaps and that Maple Bear has designed training and support plans to help our teachers do their best to handle the learning disruption the pandemic has caused.
Plans Are In Place to Address Learning Gaps
Maple Bear has always had strategies in place to address learning gaps. These strategies are applied every year when a new school year begins and the children arrive to their new grade after weeks of holidays.
Just as there are learning losses after a long summer vacation, there will be losses after this lengthy period of online schooling necessitated by the pandemic.
Before a new school year begins, our teachers review the report cards and portfolios from the previous year to start planning for each student’s identified profile.
In this new situation, our teachers have been trained to examine the work done at home, assess where each student is on the learning continuum, and plan accordingly. Teachers will assess students on fundamental skills and knowledge upon which subsequent knowledge will be built. From this information, they will prioritize needs of the student and provide “refresher” activities for the students.
Ways Our Teachers Will Support the Recovery of Learning
First and foremost, the Maple Bear way is to recognize the significance of our students’ social-emotional needs. These are always our main priority, even in normal times.
“Emotion is the gatekeeper of motivation, cognition and attention.”
– Michael Fullan, Canadian Educator/Author
Our teachers know that establishing an environment that focuses on wellbeing and belonging is essential for academic and personal growth. Despite all the new restrictions, our students will feel welcome, safe, and appreciated, ensuring they are able to learn.
Maple Bear schools have structured the school day and staffing to support the recovery of learning for our students. For example, time once allocated to music class might be redirected to extra math activities.
Our teachers will also focus on things like:
- Examining student’s past and current work by talking through important concepts with them, and by observing their interactions and behaviour (in the classroom and at home).
- Narrowing down and prioritizing subject areas to literacy and math, rather than covering all subject areas and the entire Maple Bear program.
- Condensing the curriculum by identifying the most important learning outcomes and selecting activities from these units to give students the essential knowledge and skills.
- Identifying students with similar needs, which will lead to targeted small group teaching of literacy and math.
Our Canadian trainers also recommended to the school teachers and staff that they contact parents and ask them to share information about their child’s experiences, preferences, accomplishments, struggles, emotional wellbeing that will help to inform student-specific planning whether at school or at home.
Our Online Learning Families Will Be Supported Too
When it comes to addressing the needs of families learning in the online environment, parent involvement will be key to assessing the learning needs of the child.
Here are some of the ways in which our teachers will require parent involvement:
- Coordinate schedules so that the child can join the classroom at specific times for targeted teaching of skills the teacher has prioritized for their child.
- A parent may be asked to submit independently done student work samples for “baseline assessment” to help establish a valid starting point for the teacher’s forward planning.
- Join their child in online activities or to provide support in doing targeted tasks related to particular literacy or numeracy gaps the teacher has identified.
- Discuss what they have observed with the teacher regarding their child’s emotional wellbeing, behaviour, motivation, preferences, work habits, strengths and struggles.
As our teachers help students to overcome learning loss they will focus on building sound foundation skills by prioritizing needs of the students. This may result in not all outcomes of the curriculum being met during this recovery period but it will provide students with strong skills to continue with the excellent Maple Bear program.
Most importantly, as we navigate through these difficult times, Maple Bear will continue to develop the love of learning in our students and encourage empathy and patience with our students.