March 16, 2021

Rebecca Recco: In the Pandemic, Kids Are the Unsung Heroes

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Rebecca Recco is a middle school art teacher who just took to Medium to reflect on the challenges of this year. Things are not, she says, as dire as some folks might have led you to believe:

People have a lot to say about schools this year. Every time I turn on the news or check a notification on my phone, chances are I’ll see an article about schools. And chances are that it will be negative. “Kids aren’t learning anything.” “It’s a lost year.” “Kids are failing.” I truly hope my students aren’t hearing these statements, and I certainly hope they aren’t taking them to heart, because these declarations of failure and lost learning are not true.

Recco takes a realistic look at some of the challenges and the ways in which distance learning has come up short. And yet she remains mostly optimistic

Students ARE learning. Online learning has caused students to have to take on more of the heavy lifting in school. More students are taking agency in their learning by self-advocating for what they need, taking educational risks, and persisting when challenges arise (because they do arise, daily). Students have become teachers, helping siblings, classmates, and yes — even teachers — learn new skills and troubleshoot tech issues. Students have learned digital skills — REAL skills, not the ones you get from Tik Tok and Fortnite — that will help them navigate an increasingly digital world. Students are learning leadership skills by creating study groups and online afterschool clubs. Some students in my district have become politically active, organizing huge, peaceful marches over the summer to promote racial justice. And, perhaps most importantly, students are developing empathy as they help one another navigate all the challenges of being a kid in a pandemic. If this is what “failure” looks like, what are we measuring?

It’s an encouraging look from ground zero in the pandemic teaching world, and her entire piece is well worth a look. You can read the whole thing here.

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