Despair, disconnection, and disillusionment could have been words used to describe the end of the 2019-2020 academic year, but dedicated teachers nationwide refused to let those words be their students’ reality. Instead, empathy, connection, compassion, innovation, and perseverance defined our school culture and those of other schools, nationwide.
Everyone pitched in to help students survive, mentally and physically, during these uncharted times. Teachers created new online lessons and videos along with printed packets to accommodate students without internet access. Parents set up “classroom” areas at home (and became de facto teachers’ aids). School employees worked to ensure bus routes provided daily lunches and snacks along with transporting schoolwork to and from students. Our communities united to make the end of the school year as successful as it could be.
Instead of seeing my students daily, I made daily posts on Google Classroom and Remind. As my students sent questions, I worked to find solutions.
With my American literature classes, Milestone courses, I use USATestprep as a significant learning tool. I learned how to video myself annotating and explaining a text from a USATestprep assessment on my iPad and upload it to YouTube and Google Classroom. I downloaded and printed assessments for students without Internet access. I learned what Zoom was (didn’t we all!) and how to use it.
Yes, this old teacher learned a few new tricks to ensure the success of her students. Along with lessons, I sent messages via email and Remind to check on my students’ well-being. I cried with them as they struggled with parents’ unemployment, family sickness, isolation from friends and support systems, and, in some cases, mourned with them at the death of a parent or loved one. I celebrated with them as our parents and community held our first-ever Senior Parade and they received their diplomas during a “drive-up” graduation ceremony.
Our school, like so many schools, is so much more than a brick and mortar building; we are a family. As educator Martha Berry so eloquently explained, we are responsible for educating the hands, the heart, and the mind.
My story is not unique. Nationwide, teachers learned new skills and developed innovative ways to ensure the success of their students. Nationwide, communities pulled together to support our students.
Was it a bad year? No. Was it a hard year? Yes. And yet--empathy, connection, compassion, innovation, and perseverance are what I will cherish about this challenging school year.
Thank you, Donna. And thank you to all of our teachers, parents, and community members who have gone the extra mile to ensure the success and well-being of our students.
“USATestprep is the ultimate tool for data-driven instruction and remediation. While I have been a user for more than 10 years, my grade-level group just came fully on board for the 2018-2019 school year. I used USATP to create grade-level common assessments that were then used to target specific standards that needed remediation. I then used USATP to create specific standards-based common assessments for our grade level. Using these assessments in conjunction with the personalized remediation option available for our students in USATP, we were able to target the specific needs of all our students. Our Milestone scores documented significant growth from the Spring 2018 administration. I fully believe that a key component of our student success and growth lies in our use of USATP. Thank you!” - Donna Purvis, Dodge County High School, GA