Educational Vistas, Inc.
The Importance of School Communities - January 2021 News & Notes
Sponsor Opinion Piece by Kenneth A. Facin,
Solutions Facilitator, Educational Vistas, Inc.
How schools function, teachers teach, and students learn has been on public display throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. School leaders and teachers are under intense scrutiny from politicians, parents, and the public as they try to keep their students safe, healthy, and learning. Many schools have adjusted their original September reopening plans to the reality in their communities, resulting in a modified form of in-person, remote, and/or hybrid learning. Changing how students learn has been problematic since schools closed in-person learning last March. Individual student participation and engagement challenges continue to be immense as the pandemic continues. Why are these issues so significant with students?
School socialization is arguably one of the most important learning experiences that students are exposed to outside of their families. It is also the most significantly reduced learning experience for students during this crisis. Many students attend school because of the strong human desire for socialization. Most schools, for better or worse, by their organizational grade-level structure, provide an opportune environment for students to learn and develop their social-emotional skills and values. A myriad of school socialization experiences bond and connect all children, regardless of socioeconomic status. These experiences are powerful and sometimes life-changing for students. Since the pandemic, students have not been exposed to many of these socialization communities which provide strong networks and supports for learners to thrive back in their classrooms.
Most schools get students involved in social communities by providing engaging voluntary outside the classroom learning environments and activities. These student learning opportunities are significantly important and combined with school day assemblies and field trips are essential to developing student socialization skills and attitudes. Numerous examples in schools illuminate how students connect with these essential supportive learning communities:
- An art teacher who hosts a daily 20-student lunch drawing group
- A school drama production connecting cast members, production crews, and teachers through their shared performances
- Student choral and instrumental music communities
- Student government
- Teacher-led student volunteerism at individual, class, and school-wide levels
- Student learning groups with teachers before and after school
- Actor-led assemblies espouses that every child experience theater
- Athletics, teams, coaches, pep rallies, pep bands, fans, and school pride
- Teacher-led robotics, debate, journalism, chess, yoga, and so many more school club opportunities connecting students and learning
Important social learning communities supporting student classroom learning are not fully active in most schools today. The lack of these communities has compounded the challenges that schools face getting students involved and engaged in their learning. Perhaps we should pay attention to the social development needs of our students by providing new opportunities in some modified form to reconnect our students in 2021.