Do you remember growing up during childhood and adolescence when, for a short period of time, every muscle, joint and bone ached in your body? Although the physical hurt and soreness was almost unbearable at the time, it was absolutely essential to our development. These were physical indicators that we were growing and changing – never again to be exactly the same.
In the arena of education, the year 2020 was figuratively similar to the physical pains we experienced growing up. We experienced the irritating hurt of the disruption in the education process early in the spring, the aches of adhering to the health measures and public restrictions along with the discomfort of having to be immersed in the ways of learning relatively unfamiliar and to some degree undesirable. These temporary hurdles and different ways of being have caused us to embrace educational diversity. Whether we are ready or not, education is evolving.
Teachers and administrators have become proficient at using Zoom, Google Meets and Google Classroom as platforms to facilitate online instruction. At the same time, students have become very accustomed to receiving instruction in this way, particularly for our secondary students, who have been learning from home since late November, in addition to those who chose to begin the school year in an at-home-learning environment. However, the ongoing challenge in education is far more involved than being comfortable using technology. The change we must provide our students with is a framework upon which they can create and direct their own learning at any time and place and at any rate or speed. Technology then becomes the tool or the vehicle by which all of this happens. The learning process needs to be personalized for each student so that he or she can grow and develop in accordance with his or her God-given potential. When students become more engaged and invested in the education process, because it is more personal and meaningful, their learning is optimized.
As we wrap up this past year, I encourage everyone to move forward into 2021 with confidence, enthusiasm and optimism. Having been challenged within our personal, economic and political circumstances unlike any we have previously experienced, we’ve learned a great deal this past year as it relates to the many facets of teaching and learning. As we proceed one day at a time, my prayer is that all of our students, who are entrusted to the care of teachers and staff, experience the richness of educational opportunities presented to them.