The New Better (pt. 3) – Challenges

Skip Tyler

This is a follow up post to the previous two posts discussing how education has changed in the past 5 years. If you haven’t read the previous post, go back and start from the beginning. 

In the previous posts, we discussed how educators are referring to the differences in education as the “new normal”. I’ve challenged you to reframe that thinking and refer to it as the “new better”. That doesn’t mean it is better – it is implying that we need to reflect upon what we have done over the past 5 years and get better as a result. This is when the “new better” happens!

The previous post shared a word cloud of the successes from pandemic teaching as identified from five of my keynote addresses in 2022-23. In this post, the focus shifts to the challenges that resulted from pandemic teaching. Take a look at it and identify 4-5 words or phrases that connect with you. Are there any words that surprise you? Are there any words that you disagree with?

of pandemic teaching

Challenges of Pandemic Teaching

What do you notice? What do you wonder? Participants in my keynote sessions selected a few words and provided me with an explanation or justification of their choice. Here are some responses and justifications:

  • Engagement – I felt like I was talking to myself because nobody would turn their camera on. When I would call on students, there would be a delay before they would speak. It was hard!
  • Attendance – Many students are “present” in a virtual class but do not speak or participate. Are they really there? In many cases, students didn’t even join the class!
  • Accountability – How do I know the work that is being submitted is from the student? Is the parent helping? Are they receiving help from online sources like PhotoMath? 

The value of identifying the challenges is that it highlights things that are important to us. And, if they are important to us, what are we doing now to make it better? Take engagement…is that an area of focus in classrooms now? If we identified that as a challenge for teaching virtually, why would we not want that as a priority for in person learning? Regarding accountability…I heard a lot of frustration from teachers saying the students were cheating by googling answers. My response then (and also now) is to ask better questions! Ask students to explain or justify instead of just telling an answer. Isn’t that what we really want? For example, instead of asking “what is the slope of y=2x-1?”, tell students “The slope of y=2x-1 is 2. Explain why.” You will get a wide variety of responses from this question and it will actually tell you more about what students know! 

Learning from the successes and challenges of pandemic teaching is what is really important. We went through a lot as educators. Was it all for nothing? No way! Let’s really reflect on what happened and make ourselves better educators as a result. This is what I call “The New Better”! 

So, how are you getting better every day? 


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