Essential actions to achieve a comprehensive understanding of students’ academic and social-emotional well-being when they return and to effectively transition back to instruction in the classroom.
Do When Schools are Open and Operating
- Prioritize the social-emotional wellbeing of students and educators as a foundation for learning. The COVID-19 pandemic is profoundly affecting students and adults alike. We need to attend to their wellbeing and, when needed, provide more intensive support to address trauma and mental health needs.
- Meet the needs of all students, starting with those most vulnerable. Focusing on the most vulnerable students, including students with disabilities and English learners (ELs), provides a strong foundation for instruction for all students and will help to address the opportunity and achievement gaps that have widened during the pandemic.
- Provide all students grade-level learning, regardless of their starting points. All students are capable of progressing to the next grade level this fall and mastering that content. Avoid over-remediation by focusing on below-grade-level work only when it is necessary for a student to complete grade-level work.
- Implement high-quality instructional materials to ensure all students have a coherent academic experience. High-quality instructional materials were invaluable this past spring, offering consistent and coherent support for teachers, students, and families/caregivers who all needed to work in concert in various settings and in various combinations. This will continue to be critical in the coming school year. Additionally, use the Nebraska Essential Instructional Content for 2020-2021 for ELA/Literacy and Mathematics to build streamlined scope and sequences grounded in local instructional materials (using publisher guidance where available).
- Use assessments that are sensitive to subject and grade band and provide teachers with the information to help students access priority grade-level work. Teachers need assessments that are closely connected to their instructional materials and provide information for moving all students on to grade-level work. While this principle holds true, the approaches to assessment vary by content and grade band (e.g., math versus K-2 reading versus English language arts (ELA).
- Organize teacher and principal professional learning, time, and resources to support their new needs. Professional learning is essential to support teachers’ social-emotional health and sense of efficacy in this ever-changing time. It will prepare them to teach in new ways, in a dynamic environment with students with varied needs and in close partnership with families and caregivers.
Focus Areas and Key Questions for Instruction:
(Note: The guidance documents linked above provide in-depth information and resources for focus areas, key actions, and detailed steps and are organized across implementation phases for in-person, remote, and hybrid learning environments).
- Focus Area: Instructional Materials and Instruction – How will each student learn this content, whether in-person or remote?
- Focus Area: Assessment – How prepared and how well is each student learning this content?
- Focus Area: Wellbeing and Connection – How can we create a culture of care in which staff and student wellbeing is prioritized, and all feel safe, connected, supported, engaged, and valued, both individually and collectively?
- Focus Area: Student, Family, and Community Engagement – How will the needs of students and families, especially the most vulnerable, and the voices of teachers, school leaders, and staff be incorporated into the structures and decisions school systems make for the 2020-2021 school year?