Dear Academic Approach Families & Colleagues:

We’ve spent the week focused on the impact of strong teacher-student relationships on academic outcomes. As we prepare for next week’s topic on school re-opening plans, we are reflecting on how those teacher-student relationships will be maintained as remote learning will continue to be a part of of many schools’ and school districts’ reopening plans. Given what we’re learning about re-opening schools, we’ll need 3 kinds of temp checks for a new school year: physical, social-emotional, and academic.

1. Physical Temp Checks
It will be part of schools’ protocols and ours to admit students for learning only if they pass temperature checks among other health screening tools. But what about assessing other aspects of a student’s readiness to learn?

2. Social-Emotional Temp Checks
Reading a student’s body language or facial expression – common checks of a student’s readiness to learn, engagement, or social-emotional state – will not be as readily available to teachers through a mask, in a remote classroom, or in a hybrid, part in-person, part remote classroom. Teachers are currently developing techniques to capture this information, gathering digitally or through various creative assessments, to get a reliable read on students’ social-emotional readiness to learn. This essential aspect of the teacher-student relationship will require consistent research, strategy, and innovation to adapt effectively in this new school year.

3. Academic Temp Checks
In the end, how do we know – reliably – that learning is taking place?

The role of assessment, especially digital, will play an increasingly important role in this year’s instructional model. What’s more, we cannot afford long stretches of time between summative assessments for checks on understanding. We’ll need quick formative snapshots of learning in real time in order to prevent an already substantial COVID slide to open further into a yawning gap in learning. We’ll need quick temp checks on understanding, mastery of content taught that day, to ensure that we are maintaining academic progress. Many remote learning tools actually make these snapshots easier than ever to obtain; we’ve worked with our instructors to collect data and adjust instruction as intentionally as possible.

While this work will be challenging, we are excited to be a part of this important work both with our students and our school partners to support a successful school year of physical, social-emotional, and academic health, development, and progress for our students.

Be well,
Matthew Pietrafetta, Ph.D., Founder & CEO