This new found term “learning loss” has been floating around on media and out of politicians’ mouths for months now. I’m concerned about this term. As a matter of fact, it is disturbing to me that someone coined this phrase to describe the impact Covid has had on education. I’ve heard this phrase being used everywhere. There is hardly a day or a week that I don’t see it, read it, or hear it since the beginning of this pandemic.
What’s my problem with this phrase? Right off the bat, the word “loss” has a negative connotation on multiple levels. For one it becomes an assumption that students have no been learning. Yes, the brick and mortar school were shut down for some time, but education has not. Do these critics understand what our students have been through? They have had to mitigate online learning, taking care of their siblings and pets, as well as any other responsibility that comes from being at home. In addition, they have to hope that the wifi holds steady for a few hours. And rather than focussing on what students have lost, what have they gained. The students in this pandemic era in education will be much more tech savvy, better problem solvers, and independent learners.
“Learning Loss” also creates this presumption that teachers have not been doing their job. I, for one, don’t like how it diminishes our work as educators. It minimizes our efforts to give our students the best education we can provide despite circumstances and limitations. As it is, I have an issue with how teachers went from heroes to zeroes. At the beginning of March 2020, teachers were hailed in high regard because of what we do. Parents were forced to home school their own children as schools (brick and mortar) were shut down. In less than a year (around Feb. 2021), that good vibes feeling quickly went away as the pendulum swung in the opposite direction as we were labeled “lazy” for not wanting to go back into the classrooms during the height of a pandemic. Teachers were shamed and called out on social media. And yet teachers have just kept on doing their best, despite the adversities. (I could write a full series of blog posts on teacher shaming, but we won’t go there)
Rather than labeling this past year as “learning loss”, I propose a few alternatives. Why can’t we use another phrase like “learning redirected” or “learning alternative.” Just because school has been happening in the non-traditional way, doesn’t mean that students haven’t been learning. It’s just been different. And if you are one of those people that love to bash on teachers for being lazy….please come and be in my shoes for a day. Try to convert all your lessons to online learning. See how you feel after being on Google Classroom with 6th graders for 5 hours a day (and this is no including staff meetings, parent conferences or IEPs). Feel the frustration of not being able to see your students’ faces or their work. Lazy is the last word I would use in describing 2020-2021 teachers.
Until next time,