by Patrice Semicek, STEM Project Associate & Eastern PA Gifted Liason
Without a doubt, the 2020-2021 school year is like no other! We as educators have been dealt a hand that none of us were prepared for and we have handled the many difficulties of this year with grace and such dedication to the students that we serve. I am very proud to count myself as an educator among all of you!
The abruptness with which we were all forced out of our brick and mortar buildings last spring did not allow for any planning and revision to our practice that would ensure that each and every goal and modification could be immediately implemented in a virtual setting. We are now tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that all of our students are getting their goals met in a variety of settings that could literally change overnight, which as we know, is not an easy feat. However, it is not impossible. There are ways to ensure that our students are getting their goals and modifications met in every setting.
When we start to think about how to make goals and modifications work in any learning environment, we must first start by taking a good look at our goals. If our goals are written so that they can only take place in certain settings, we lock ourselves into face to face environments. For example, if I were to write a goal that hinged on a student participating in an academic competition, and the competition doesn’t happen, my student cannot meet that goal. When we broaden our goals and base them in the academic standards, we can ensure that our students can work on achieving them regardless of where they are receiving instruction.
Once we have established clear and academic based goals, we can then begin to work on providing modifications to our students through the use of online learning systems, like Google Classroom, Schoology, Canvas, etc. These tools are easily accessible to students and teachers of both gifted and general education worlds, which allows multiple educators the opportunity to work on maximizing student potential. The key to successful implementation is team work. Both the general education teacher and the gifted teacher need to work together to create and monitor goals for our students. The gift of this awful pandemic is that it has created a new and different opportunity for educators to meet and discuss student progress unlike ever before. We just have to be willing to shake up past practice and be the change agents.