Sara Davila is a Learning and Language Acquisition Expert. She is a teacher, materials writer, researcher, and teacher trainer who has worked in a variety of contexts in the education field. In this series of articles, Sara talks about Lost Learning – that is, the classroom and teaching time students have lost during the pandemic.
In today’s article she summarizes the series and explores how to overcome lost learning in a socially distanced classroom.
As we begin to return to our schools, it’s a good time to reflect on the changes and challenges we’ve faced in 2020. It’s also a good moment to focus on the impact social distancing and quarantine has had on our students and the way we teach.
During the year, educators around the world have dug into the tools and services available to deliver and facilitate online classes. In just a few short months, teachers have gained lots of experience and developed new-found skills with technology – including a much better understanding of how it can be used in the classroom to support learners.
Taking on the challenges
With challenges come real opportunities to support our students. For example, social distancing itself gives us an opportunity to foster the development of critical thinking skills in our younger learners. By encouraging them to focus on behavior changes, they not only begin to think about the consequences of their actions, but can also develop a greater awareness of hygiene, health and safety.
Moreover, as teachers who want active, engaged and lively classes, we need to think carefully about the materials and activities we use. At the same time, we need to consider how to present those activities in the classroom for our students. Adapting our various tools and techniques allows us to continue to take advantage of technology to enhance learning, while still providing the scaffolding, support, and practice needed for success.
In class, we may need to consider different ways to approach our instruction. For a few more months, it will be important to find ways to promote communication, while still maintaining a certain amount of distance. We can use language learning strategies to help our learners develop communication skills, without getting too close for comfort.
Finally, we can help our students make breakthroughs in their language development, while engaging more thoughtfully with language tools and communication and mediation strategies.
A year of learning
This year has certainly challenged all of us. We have learned new ways to engage and communicate online. We have discovered a variety of new tools and services we can use to support our students. And we have explored how to create meaningful communication to keep engaging the world. Through it all, teachers have turned to many of these challenges into important, lasting, solutions to prevent lost learning. The effort of today’s educators will be felt in the future success of our learners as they move once again around the world, collaborating with others, brainstorming problems, and communicating solutions.