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COVID Catch Up

For the past year I think that all of us have been playing a game of COVID Catchup. Not a fun game, but a game nonetheless. My opinion is that society was in such a shock over the pandemic, it was difficult to take care of day-to-day operations that were commonplace before our quarantine. Education was hit hard. Parents realized that distance learning required full-time supervision by parents or their child wouldn't make the appropriate progress in learning skills.

I just completed teaching first grade the past year. I left the university two years ago and have been loving being back as a classroom teacher. With all my extensive background in teaching reading, first grade made the best sense for me. I do love it! However, last fall was a shocking. My DIBELS scores indicated that 5% of my students were on-level in reading. That's 1 student. All the rest of my students were critically low and lacking in skills. In fact, 7 of my students had never attended school before (some were distance learners who did not participate fully in their kindergarten program).

The first two weeks of school felt like working with a new group of preschoolers. We know how egocentric children are at this age and they did not know how to function in a group. I remember the first day I asked the group to come and sit on the floor. 8 of the 24 first graders came to the floor. The rest were 'exploring' the new environment.

I was quite stressed as I know how important it is for us to get first-graders on-level in reading. I had students who did not even know what the alphabet was or the function of numbers. Needless to say, it was a challenging year at the beginning.

We may never know the complete extent of how children suffered academically during our COVID experience, but I appreciate the agencies and school districts who are pouring as many resources as they can into providing teachers with the tools to help children develop their skills. I do stress sometimes about how some communities and government officials are spending precious time and resources on unnecessary issues. A good example is Critical Race Theory. In my area there was absolutely no evidence that it was in any our schools, yet it had to debated and our legislation had to pass a 'law' that it wasn't to be addressed in schools. It would have been more helpful for them to spend their time providing what resources they can to promote good teaching and learning. Teachers don't need micromanagement. They need support and resources to help get their students on-level and ready for the world.


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