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1) Prioritize equity: Better to live in a just society than an advanced one. If forced to choose between a just society or school and a high achieving one, choose just.
2) Don't teach or test in a way that disadvantages some students.
3) If that means the quickest won't progress as fast because you can't support those who are less ready, then that's how it will have to be until we can get better at supporting and challenging everyone. "Do no harm" is the guiding principle.
4) Challenge every student, but not more than they can actually handle. Set the bar high. Let them try. Then adjust it, always trying to challenge them and inch it higher.
So how can we actually do this in the COVID-19 world?
Let's take a look at the primary hinderances kids are dealing with, and some possible solutions.
Access to technology
Problem: Many students of low socio-economic status lack fast, stable internet or computers. This can lead to an inability to participate fully in Zoom calls, especially if webcams are required.
Possible solutions: Don't require webcams. Provide asynchronous options for learning, and extended deadlines. Bring these students in to school, in-person and full time, if possible.
Problem: Many students have home environments that are not conducive to participating in live classes. Some are caring for siblings. Others have distracting activity all around them. Others may be embarrassed to show their homes or families.
Possible solutions: Same as above, plus multiple opportunities for learning and success. In other words, mastery-based learning. They need flexibility. They need to be able to take or submit an assessment when they are ready, not on a deadline. They may also need extra academic help and social-emotional resources and instruction.
ADHD, sleep issues, low conscientiousness, low SEL skills
Problem: Many students attempting to learn from home are hindered by a lack of non-cognitive skills: the ability to get up on time, stay awake during class, manage their sleep, schedules, and tasks, stay focused, manage depression or anxiety, etc. These things prevent them from accessing the curriculum.