Teachers preparing for ‘pandemic slide’ of learning on top of typical ‘summer slide’ for students

Published: Aug. 10, 2022 at 6:22 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Students experience the ‘summer slide’ of learning every year, but now they’re also facing learning gaps from the pandemic.

As teachers are getting ready to welcome students back into the classroom, they’re also prepared to face a new set of challenges from the pandemic. The education department chair at Roanoke College explained how students are showing academic and emotional gaps.

“That social skill development we’ve seen transfer here, in some very negative ways,” Lisa Stoneman said. “They’re isolated and they have trouble relating to peers. They didn’t build those relationships with peers that we would normally have seen.”

Stoneman explained students may be on track with the test scores, but emotional and social development may be lagging.

“It’s really not the child’s fault; they may not have been around any other fifth graders and they’re in fifth grade now, not third grade,” Stoneman said. “The expectations that their third grade teacher had of them, they’re still meeting; only those expectations have shifted.”

An assistant professor at Virginia Tech explained that gap has an impact on daily lessons.

“Teachers are having to spend a lot of time getting students up to speed with what’s expected,” Rosanna Breaux said. “You’re having to reteach, which then takes away time from teaching the curriculum you’re supposed to be teaching.”

Teachers are also seeing a new perspective on education.

“We’ve learned some things that maybe we’ll actually move forward with as we move out of the pandemic times, to a future that looks a little different,” Stoneman said. “I don’t think we’re going back to pre pandemic education.”

Teachers are moving forward with individualized plans, using online resources and focusing less on standardized testing scores.

“Learning is learning,” Stoneman said. “But addressing people one on one, what their deficits are and where you’ve noticed the deficits are, I think teachers have gotten really adept to that.”

The director of curriculum and instruction at Bedford County Public Schools explained new perspective has helped teachers and students.

“We’re just trying to identify what are their learning needs and where do they show some weaknesses in terms of performance, and we’re just creating plans to implement that,” Shawn Trosper said.

Stoneman explained there are ways families can help students at home get ready for the demands of the classroom to try and minimize the summer and pandemic slides.

“They need to be reading, so they’re interacting with the words,” Stoneman said. “Play games, especially board games. Not digital games so much, because there’s a lot of screen time going on so pulling back from that screen time.”

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