Please redefine normal


Our last normal day of school was 619 days ago. 

Our last day without masks, without going virtual, without COVID-19. 

While this is already shocking alone, consider this: a study done by Brown University in students in grades 1-8 found that there is a 17-34% loss of the prior school year’s learning.

Except a typical summer is around 80 days, not 528 days.

So, why is it that we have simply started this year as if we didn’t lose over six times that?

School feels so hard now because we aren’t used to the normal five day weeks with full class sizes. Due dates feel less important as they haven’t actually mattered in so long. 

The idea of returning to this idea of normalcy is absurd; it is not real. The idea of normal school and normal life we refer to has been romanticized over the past year. Expecting students, or anyone in general, to just jump back in as if nothing happened is counterproductive to education. 

After spending the entire past school year being forced to be creative and innovative, we found new ways to learn, to be engaged, to interact, to compete and to grow. Just for all of that to stop once the original scare was gone and we became more used to this lifestyle. 

To create successful students there is a need for continuing this creativity. 

Each group of students has missed different opportunities, causing learners to be at vastly different levels of knowledge. It is easy to forget this simple fact and assume students understand because every year prior they did.

One way to combat this difference is using scaffolding to teach students. This allows students to be supported while also discovering how to do something themselves. 

In this model, positive reinforcement is key to moving the process along, with the end goal being for the student to become independent and complete the task or do the work themselves.

There is another common issue I have found as well: confusion.

I often hear from many peers how they are confused about what they are doing or the class question, “So, how does this work?” As a senior, younger students look up to me for the answers to those types of questions. Except, I don’t entirely know the answer. It is hard to remember how things worked before COVID-19. It is stressful being expected to just know what you are doing. 

To fix this gap, we need to take a moment and really think about what we are doing. We need to practice patience and provide a little extra support for each other as we begin to get back on track in school.

You can’t erase 619 days of loss in 24 hours.This is something that requires a long term conscious effort. It is possible to get through this difficult transition together and feel in control of our lives again.