The new school year has arrived, and it's one that K-12 administrators have eagerly had their sights set on. And as school districts continue to plan for what will surely be an unpredictable year, technology remains a hot topic for all administrators, teachers and students.
We reached out to district administrators Paul from Chicago Public Schools, Lindie from Dublin City Schools and Arlin from Bellefonte Area School District to weigh in on the 2021-2022 school year and beyond. Check out their thoughts for the upcoming year!
What is top of mind for the 2021-2022 school year 🏫
Last year was unprecedented and created an unusual learning experience (to say the least) for students as well as teachers and administrators. Technology — and tech support — played a larger role than ever in the classroom.
“Lesson planning with technology has shifted from lesson planning and technology,” said Paul, a faculty member with Chicago Public Schools. “[And] the need for routines and procedures in the hybrid classroom is as strong if not more than in the regular classroom. Teacher coaching and support kept teachers afloat in a time of change, uncertainty and stress. The need is greater than we thought.”
Lindie, coordinator of educational technology at Dublin City Schools added that video technology has empowered students' voices. “Engagement can come in so many forms,” she said. “Students love to express themselves by video and they do not always have to be in the video.”
Related: Hear from forward-thinking English teacher Ola Brorson on EdTech Heroes!
The importance of simplicity and privacy of tech in 2021 and beyond 👩💻
While reliance on technology has grown greatly in the past year, simplicity in the tech has remained a priority for K-12 administrators and educators.
“Tech tools must be easy to use and reliable especially when teachers are working with students who are learning from home,” said Arlin, an instructional technology specialist with Bellefonte Area School District. “... troubleshooting issues that students are experiencing at home is extremely difficult.”
Paul from CPS added that the simplest tools were the tools that have lasted — and made a lasting impact for educators.
“Teachers were initially bombarded with a litany of technological tools/resources to help them bridge the in-class/remote teaching and learning strategies they had become accustomed to, and it was too much,” he said. “After a few months of trying out and sifting through a variety of tech resources, we filtered out the duplicity and redundancy of the tools we were using and focused on the top 5 that our teachers used the most because of their simplicity.”
Ensuring all students learn and receive quality education 📚
While simple and effective technology play a role in student success, an entire community can play a part in their success, Paul of CPS wrote.
“Educators had to ensure all students learn,” he said. “We've learned that communicating and partnering with our community and families has made a larger impact than we've seen before. We must continue to clearly and frequently have everyone on the same page.”
Lindie of Dublin City Schools added that ensuring that every student has an equal opportunity for success is done by “keeping students engaged, curious and wanting to learn more.”
How the last year-plus has changed K-12 education in the near term and long term 📅
The effects of last school year will reach well beyond the upcoming year. And many of the technological changes will become permanent, as Paul of CPS points out.
“Technology resources have become front-and-center instead of an option for teaching and learning. Teachers had to unlock the potential of using technology in order to keep learning afloat this year, and that has changed everything in their approach to whole-class, independent and group learning. It was necessary.”
Arlin of Bellefonte Area School agrees that the technological changes will have a lasting impact on in-classroom and remote learning.
“This year, our teachers were required to post all content in Google Classroom. I expect that this will continue to be required for the upcoming years. Teachers were also required to provide live instruction to remote and hybrid students who are working from home. [And] parents have become more engaged in keeping track of student assignments.”
Turning the Page to 2021-2022 📖
After a year of uncertainty, K-12 administrators are applying the lessons learned in 2020-2021 to ensure that students and teachers are successful in the new school year. Powerful yet simple technology is no longer optional when providing an equal opportunity for a quality education to every student. But these steps must be taken while maintaining privacy for educators and students — whether they’re inside or outside of the classroom.