It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas
By Charles Sosnik
“A pair of Hopalong boots and a pistol that shoots
Is the wish of Barney and Ben
Dolls that’ll talk and will go for a walk
Is the hope of Janice and Jen
And Mom and Dad can hardly wait for school to start again”
Last March, when America closed its schools, it would have been hard to imagine that we could be just a few weeks from Christmas with no real resolution in site. But things are not as bleak as they would seem. COVID-19 may indeed be the Grinch, but Christmas will not be stolen. And even if Barney and Ben don’t get that snazzy new pair of Hopalong boots, rest assured that they are getting a good education, and perhaps a better education than if the pandemic had never happened.
School districts are making their lists, and America’s brightest and best educators are figuring out ways to not only cope with remote and hybrid learning, but to use this interruption as a catalyst to make the changes we have needed for many years.
It would have been easy to just throw in the towel. But you, the men and women of education, don’t do easy. You do what needs to be done. And you do what you do for a reason, to benefit our children and ensure a better future for our country.
America’s Education Christmas List This Year
Special Needs Engagement – for those of you working in the special needs space, we are hearing from our school districts that children on the spectrum and many others with special needs are having a tough time connecting online and feeling like they are part of the action. As we know, many in our special needs population have a hard time with changing routines and changing situations.
Student Wellbeing – most of us could not have predicted just how strongly our children’s sense of wellbeing would be affected during the lockdown and subsequent move to remote and now hybrid learning. Everyone has been touched by circumstances – administrators, teachers, parents and especially students.
A New Pony – okay, just seeing if you were paying attention.
Online Literacy Tools – Perhaps more than any other time since before the invention of the television, our kids have time and the motivation to read. Relevant, engaging content is sorely needed, especially if it is leveled for different reading abilities.
Civics Education – All you need to do is look around, watch the news or speak with young people and you will see the need for Civics education. Years ago, Civics used to be mandatory in most school systems. Sadly, that is no longer the case. Perhaps if more people knew the way our democracy works, we would not have the civil unrest we see each night on the news or looking out our windows. Schools are realizing this and are on the lookout for quality Civics curriculum for their learners.
Safety materials – Schools are still buying plexiglass dividers, flexible furniture and almost anything that can make their physical spaces safer.
Computer Hardware – The buying spree is still going. Many schools have not been able to find everything they need. They are still looking for Chromebooks, laptops and tablets to take home, as well as hardware for the classroom including desktops with over-sized monitors, and flat panel displays.
Software – Learning Management platforms, Single Sign On solutions, conferencing software, AR/VR and more.
Professional Development – The transition to virtual learning created a major-league need for professional development. In particular, educators need training to help them be better virtual instructors.
Suggestion: Classroom 2.0
Connectivity – Connectivity is still an issue for many learners. Mobile hotspots and discounted or free Internet broadband are sorely needed right now.
Curriculum – Schools are buying everything right now. They are scouring the digisphere for new and better curriculum across every subject area. Many districts are using the pandemic as a reason to upgrade and improve their curricular offerings. Without teachers in the classroom every day for every student, the need for the best courses and courseware has never been greater.
Suggestion: Discovery Education
Santa is Stepping Up
As educators, you have many needs this year. But fortunately, Santa has what you need. The EdTech spend is expected to be almost 40 percent greater this year than last. In addition to the CARES Act and state and federal grant money, school and district purchasing luminaries are rethinking the effectiveness of all learning materials.
Don’t let little Barney and Ben, Janice and Jen go wanting this Christmas season. If you have a need, let your school or district purchasing departments know. Tell them, in no uncertain terms, what you need and why it matters. We are so used to hearing there is no money, that sometimes we even believe it. But this year, your school or district will find the money for what your learners need. Times have changed. And it’s time for us to take care of our learners.
About the author
Charles Sosnik is an education journalist and editor and serves as Editor in Chief at the Learning Counsel. An EP3 Education Fellow, he uses his deep roots in the education community to add context to the education narrative. Charles is a frequent writer and columnist for some of the most influential media in education, including the Learning Counsel, EdNews Daily, EdTech Digest and edCircuit. Unabashedly Southern, Charles likes to say he is an editor by trade and Southern by the Grace of God.