The Big Leap: Here’s What We Heard at our Superintendent Roundtable

On March 4, New Teacher Center (NTC) hosted a panel discussion with four leading-edge superintendents from across the country. Our CEO, Dr. Desmond Blackburn, discussed proud and challenging moments amid a year-long pandemic, racial reckoning, and many challenges not found in the news. Our speakers shared their go-forward attitudes and approaches to drive positive change for students. You can access the full recording here.

Check out all of our Big Leap content at our Support Hub, including upcoming events.

The following is a summary of ideas and insights from the roundtable:

Normal is overrated

  • As we re-enter schools in-person, let’s emphasize discussions on what we’ve learned and what’s worked well to consider doing things differently post-pandemic.
  • Let’s not return to business as usual. “Doing things differently” can look like: effective small group tutoring, leveraging high-performing teachers for students who need support the most, and alternative and/or flexible schedules.
  • Asynchronous learning and flexible scheduling provide deep value for students. It frees up experiential learning opportunities, supports students balancing school and work, and optimizes learning around learners instead of rigid schedules.
  • Flexibility should extend to teachers to maximize impact (i.e., some teachers teach in the morning, and others, later in the day).

“Learning loss” is a deficit mindset term

  • It’s more appropriate to frame our thinking on the loss of learning time during the pandemic and the challenges of delivering certain types of learning virtually.
  • Let’s not fixate on simply “returning to the physical space of the school.” Instead, let’s keep in mind “this is a chance for something new.”
  • Ideas such as “holding students back a year post-pandemic” come from a narrow mindset.
  • We need to think about accelerating, enriching, gaining knowledge, and flexibility for students who “normal” wasn’t working for anyway.

Educator support matters

  • Let’s ensure professional learning opportunities for educators align with approaches that center on student needs.
  • In this new world, everyone is a new teacher again — professional learning support needs to meet teachers where they are at, differentiate support based on skill/need, and help build educators’ capacity to be great.
  • Educators are care-takers and often do not prioritize caring for themselves. We must all remind one another to prioritize self-care, such as take time for yourself and the relationships that sustain you.

Prediction: Assessment will change

  • We’ve watched education transform in this new environment and assume assessment will need to change as well.
  • We’re no longer bound by the classroom’s four walls and the way things “have always been done.”
  • As we continue to decide when to move students on to new content or take advanced courses, it will determine how we administer assessments in the future.
  • Let’s embrace the many data sets on hand to frame assessment as a tool to build holistic, human-centered learner profiles.
  • Even before the pandemic, families were pushing back on the use of standardized assessment. The desire is for assessments that do not punish students but help inform quality instruction.

Please check out our recording to learn more.

This blog post is part of NTC’s Big Leap series. See all of our events, blog posts, and other offerings here

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