How moving on after COVID and DAD experience?

No recent event make us talk about school more than COVID.

“DAD” (didactic on distance) was probably one of the keywords of the pandemic era. However, the most widespread opinions, supported by statistics, speaks about that as an educational failure, actually.

Technology, hailed as the best and only solution (and financed on the same way), is now a convenient scapegoat: the useless debate between “apocalyptics” and “integrated” has regained strength. But technology favors or allows only some of the processes involved in educational dynamics, and, though powerful, a “medium” remain just a “medium”.

At the end of the day, the quality of work depends on the quality of people; and the quality of teachers is an even more complicated subject than COVID. And it is so for a thousand reasons, first of all the fact that the outcome of “good teaching” is difficult to recognize and certify, which is why for years we have been floating between the “coldness” of INVALSI data, the more or less plausible comparisons with foreign systems and a system that has transfigured this difficulty into a taboo, a category that does not accept evaluations of any kind or even structural changes (by “structural” change I mean, for example, the request for approaches that do without the textbook and improve using of technology).

However, as I said, at least it has been talked about, because the truth is that the covid era has highlighted mostly pre-existing difficulties.

The “educational success” depends by many reasons and it would be important to analyze them all. There are responsibilities of families, of politics, of the students themselves.
But now I must talk about school.
While the people feels (or like to feel) that everything has been done “in parentheses”, and wants to come back to the good old days, as if nothing had happened, we find ourselves in the embarrassing situation in which some schools did a lot of things and want to be thanked for, and some did nothing or should have better done nothing. Some teachers were absolutely good and some absolutely wrong.
We don’t speculate on percentages of good and bad ones but I have to notice that just 6% of Italian teachers were involved in training course in the past two years. If the situation was so difficult, I would have expected, along with the decree mandating the implementation of the Plan on Integrated Digital Teaching, at least the temporary training obligation.
Looking forward to another similar school year, managers and teachers should have spent the second half of June and the first half of September NOT teaching to the students, but studying and discussing, to understand what to propose this year. I’m talking about goals and methods, but also about tools, of course.
I think it was worthwhile even at this time.
I, too, maintain that the Support Decree was made with good intentions and good objectives. Moreover, schools have already had a lot of money to implement these activities. But in practice, what are the prevailing activities? Have they really been selected based on the criteria of the decree? Who will control them? How understand if activities were working?
In conclusion the problem of student recovery is less urgent than quality of teaching.

Report on DAD during the lockdown

The supplementary report relating to the survey on teaching practices during the lockdown is online.
The Report, based on the study of the answers given to the online questionnaire by over 3,700 Italian teachers, is configured as a snapshot for a peculiar historical moment.

It’s not an exhaustive analysis but makes a constructive reflection.

Some of the data that emerged substantially reveal a transposition of traditional frontal teaching into the DDA, where two main practices emerge, such as video-conference lessons and the allocation of resources for study and exercises.

In general, the part of the teachers who took part in the survey split into two groups, one having a greater confidence with the ITC and face the distance as inspiring and professional challenge. The second a lower confidence with strong need to increase ITC skill for the didactics.

https://www.indire.it/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Report-integrativo-Novembre-2020_con-grafici-1.pdf

DDI Plan

After lock down, a new edition of Piano Nazionale Scuola Digitale is called Piano Didattica Digitale Integrata now. Actually, it’s more like a check-list, while PNSD was something like a “what we should do for them”. PNSD was a list of good intentions by government and the school could join some announcements for the money to do. By DDI the schools write what they really can do with devices and cloud.
What will it make the difference? The difference will be in WHO is writing that. the more teachers involved in developing the plan, the more likely it is that the plan will be realized.

Barriers to Bridges

Barriers to Bridges (form Anya Grotte-Brown blog)

Since the COVID-19 pandemic has forced schools to close, teachers have served as the main resource on remote learning; supported students’ social-emotional and mental health needs; and broken down multiple barriers to help children learn and grow. Our new report examines the frontline experiences of educators during the COVID-19 pandemic and provides recommendations for education leaders and policymakers based on teachers’ guidance and input.

“The central lesson of this report for school and policy leaders is to empower and recognize the expertise of teachers in responding to this pandemic. They must make room for our teachers to continue to lead planning and bring forth solutions that will benefit students and their learning.”―Roberto J. Rodríguez, Teach Plus President and CEO.

From the Report:

Findings from the focus groups:

  1. Teachers want to ensure that school leaders prioritize the mental health and well-being of both students and teachers in the coming school year.
  2. Teachers want specific professional development in order to bring their best in this new era, including on how to teach remotely and on how to integrate social and emotional learning into their instruction.
  3. Teachers see this moment of crisis as a potential transformative point in education, to address inequities and support innovation in teaching and learning. They believe schools can and must use it to shape longer-term solutions for the future of education.
  4. Teachers support the use of student learning data — including data collected through diagnostic assessments — paired with curated or “power” standards to tailor their curriculum and pace of teaching.
  5. Collaboration across school roles and more distributed leadership in schools are needed to meet the challenges of the coming school year. Deeper partnerships and relationships with families and community partners are also urgently needed to better serve students, especially students with disabilities, English language learners, and economically disadvantaged students.

Recommendations for school, district, and state leaders:

  1. Embrace teacher leadership and include teachers in the decision-making process.
  2. Prioritize and incorporate the expertise of teachers in school planning and instruction.
  3. Increase resources for trauma-informed instruction, student mental health, and the well-being of teachers.
  4. Strengthen communication, connections, and partnership with parents and families to better support students.
  5. Identify, evaluate, and scale-up promising practices and approaches, particularly from teachers who are uniquely qualified to understand and re-envision how schools can best serve children.
  6. Prioritize education funding — and pay particular attention to those schools that serve the highest need students.

“Teachers across the country are seeing this moment as an opportunity to be innovative through learning new skills that will enhance their ability to teach virtually and better meet the needs of their students. School districts are now acting with urgency to fund the resources needed to finally close the digital divide. This shift in education opens up a world of possibilities for both students and teachers and may just be the rainbow after the storm we have been looking for.” ― Natalie Brown, 2nd grade teacher at Frank Guzick Elementary in Dallas ISD and Teach Plus Senior Policy Fellow.