Learning from our Learners
As we look forward and collectively imagine the future of education in Iowa in a post-COVID world, it is important to really hear and understand our students’ experiences. Learning from our learners, actively listening and seeking their feedback is necessary in order to grow and build an even stronger education system that meets the needs of all of our students going forward.
We have learned a lot since last spring and need to be prepared to provide high-quality programs to students regardless of the educational setting. But we must also be mindful of the broader impact these disruptions and challenges have had on our students.
Being in a physical classroom is tremendously different from learning online. For those who have struggled, a common theme has been a lack of motivation and sense of alienation when learning remotely. Other students have adjusted well to online learning and appreciate the flexibility in completing assignments that an online learning environment provides.
It is also important to listen to student experiences that happen outside of the classroom. Students have a lot on their plates during normal circumstances. Now, in addition to school, extracurricular activities and homework, they may also be caring for younger siblings, dealing with the financial stress of a parent losing a job, and not being able to socialize with friends like they did before the pandemic. Ensuring students feel connected and supported is crucial to their overall well-being and the pandemic has intensified previously existing needs for more social-emotional-behavioral health services and supports.
Continuing to expand mental health support for schools is a top priority. It is critical to build on the social-emotional-behavioral resources launched on the Return-to-Learn site and the important work that AEAs have been doing for children’s mental health school-based training and support. We want to continue to build off of this work and are looking at possible ways to use federal relief funds to help schools continue to address these growing needs.
By focusing on what is working, identifying the resources needed to keep us moving forward and understanding that students need to learn in ways that work for them, we can create an even better education system, and a better future for our students and our collective tomorrow.