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Figuring Out How to Bring Students up to Speed May be Wrong Question for Fall

Trying to predict where we're headed in education for the fall? According to one long-time educator in Wisconsin, if your thinking is focused on how to catch students up to where they should be, "you are asking the wrong question." Diana Laufenberg serves as the executive director of Inquiry Schools, an organization that works with districts and schools to transform their approach to learning. She's also in the midst of a long-term substitute teaching job.

Last month, Laufenberg posted a set of seven tweets examining questions to ask about remote teaching and learning for the next go-around now that the initial shock of being dumped into the deep end of the pool is waning. To further understand what she was proposing, KQED recently talked with Laufenberg to offer "seven distance learning priorities to consider before reopening schools."

In an article by Senior Editor Ki Sung, Laufenberg suggested that improving learning for the next disruption needs to start at the physical layer: making sure students have devices and internet access.

From there, teachers and administrators need to pause and give some thought to what's most important. It's possible, Laufenberg said, that remote learning is a good time "to teach kids the skills they need to be more self-reliant," such as time management and how to ask for help when they're struggling.

It's also important to scale back "expectations of teachers and students," she asserted. People are "beating themselves up" because they're not being as productive or efficient as they'd like. Distance learning is "not going to be as good; that's a fact," she said. "You will make it as good as it possibly can be under the circumstances, under what we are functioning under. But it will not be as effective as what we were doing in school."

Laufenberg also advised that extending school into the summer or restarting it earlier in the year may not be the best idea, since that suggests that somehow teachers need to keep doing what they're already doing.

"When [remote learning] happens again, how will we enter this space with more grace and intentionality than this last round afforded us?" Laufenberg tweeted. "What supplies, protocols & procedures will we implement to be better poised to handle something like this in the future?"

The full article is openly available on the KQED website. Laufenberg's Apr. 14, 2020 tweets are available on her Twitter account.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.