Keeping Students Engaged During COVID-19

COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the remaining weeks of this school year.

As each municipality across Michigan rolls out localized plans for their students, the challenge is maximizing learning opportunities for everyone.

And effectively preparing them for the upcoming academic year becomes paramount during these unprecedented times.

With emphasis now on online learning, the need is to provide consistent and equitable educational opportunities for all students.  For example, not every student has access to online opportunities. Whether due to lack of online capabilities at home or missing daily interactions with fellow students, the challenge will be to have a balanced playing field focused on fair and equitable learning opportunities for all 1.5 million students across the state.

Eric Brown, Co-CEO of Education, MI-RAMP (Michigan-Reading and Math (STEM) Performance, a newly-formed non-profit states, “The importance of education and where possible gaps exist will be magnified over the course of the next ten weeks.”

He also says there are disparities when it comes to public and private educational opportunities and geographic dispersion, whether urban, suburban or rural.

While parents are home schooling and looking to rely on online tools to engage students with teachers regarding content delivery, Brown raises several questions which, he believes, need to be addressed across all school districts:

  • Are there consistent criteria in place to ensure that the education will be equitable?
  • What assurances are in place to feel comfortable with the students being committed to the process?
  • With the pass/fail option, how will school districts know educational gaps are being closed since children were last in the classroom before the Executive Order was issued by the Governor?
  • Will the students even be committed to participating in the 10-week distance learning process?
  • Will there be any assistance, particularly in urban settings, provided to the parents and/or guardians to help ensure students are being properly taught?

Since the stay-at-home order, I have talked to parents about how they and their students are adjusting to learning outside the classroom. Some have more formalized plans at home, while others are much more lenient. In fact, one parent told me they might spend 90 minutes home schooling, but realistically, they don’t. Each situation varies.

In other words, each family’s approach is unique.

Brown suggests overcoming student complacency. He mentioned bench-marking data can only be used based on what was learned in the classroom.  However, since the recent Executive Order signed by the Governor, he fears complacency might have set in because it’s been nearly a month since distance learning kicked off across Michigan’s school districts.

What can families do as they prepare their students for pro-COVID-19 life?

Brown says, “I would have liked to of seen the learning be consistent across the board, but in talking to parents with school-aged kids, that is not the case.”

Without knowing the state of the pandemic, he suggests the state look at a mid-August start date for the ’20-’21 academic year.  He believes too much time away from the classroom is a detriment and espouses Michigan students cannot continue to get further behind.

Brown suggests launching a PSA campaign with consistent messages focused on the importance of education while students are away from the classroom.  In other words, not being in school doesn’t mean you are free from education.

Now is the time for schools to develop and communicate lesson plans focused on student engagement while parents must do their part by implementing these plans with discipline and rigor.

And this ongoing process requires ongoing teacher, parental and student engagement. It also requires encouragement from the community at-large, even if others don’t have children in the school system.

Stay home, stay safe and stay engaged with your children.

 

Mark S. Lee is Founder, President & CEO, The LEE Group, and can be heard “In the Conference Room”, Sundays, 11 am, on 910am, and you can listen to “Small Talk with Mark S. Lee” podcasts at leegroupinnovation.com