It’s been an active and destructive hurricane season here in Louisiana where I live and have worked as an educator for three decades. Hurricane Ida tore through here 16 years to the day after Hurricane Katrina devastated our state. Hurricane Nicholas followed closely to add further damage to Louisiana and Texas. Ironically, just a few weeks before the storms wreaked havoc on many of our communities I wrote this op-ed in the Houston Chronicle sharing lessons learned from Katrina as it relates to school disruptions, whether those occur due to major hurricanes, other weather events, or global pandemics.
Now, once again, many of our schools in Louisiana are severely damaged. But eventually, and hopefully before too much time passes, all our teachers and students will be back in classrooms trying to both catch up on missed content and stay focused on the teaching and learning expectations associated with this academic year.
As I noted in the Houston Chronicle op-ed, teachers need high-quality classroom resources in core content more than ever. Thankfully, Louisiana and Texas are states that have emphasized the importance of high-quality resources. The Texas Home Learning site is notable for the resources it makes available whether students are in school or working remotely.
In addition, after any disruption to schooling, it’s vital for teachers to use assessments to identify learning gaps and try to address those in highly targeted ways, rather than just reviewing material from last year or a previous period that that may or may not be exactly what students need. At the same time, teachers need to keep progressing through the current year’s content. Otherwise, students will be stuck in a remedial loop and won’t acquire the new knowledge and skills needed.
The Houston Chronicle is a subscription-based newspaper. If you have access to it, please check out my op-ed there. For other resources related to remote learning, please check out some of what’s available here.
And if you have ideas for how to help students this year, share them with us by tagging us on Twitter at @GreatMindsEd.
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Nell McAnelly has taught mathematics at the high school and university levels for more than 30 years. She also served as co-director of the Louisiana State University Cain Center for STEM Literacy, where she directed a number of high-profile projects requiring expertise in the design and implementation of standards-based professional development and curriculum instruction for K–12 teachers. Most recently, Nell was Great Minds’ project director for the New York State Mathematics Curriculum Development Project (EngageNY), now known as Eureka Math.