What’s Next? When Learning Isn’t as Usual

Our mission is to transform teaching and learning, so what happens when the educators we serve are asked to facilitate remote learning with no notice? Or when parents are suddenly expected to provide engaging learning experiences while also juggling work, loss of income, anxiety, and uncertainty?

The public health crisis unfolding around COVID-19 has caused an atmosphere of stress, uncertainty, and fear in all of us. While emergency responses like school and shelter-in-place measures are necessary to keep communities healthy, they will also have a disproportionate impact on those who already struggle to make ends meet. This crisis has exposed what we’ve known for years: that there are deep-seated structural inequities in our education systems. 

We’re particularly concerned for the 22 million kids who rely on school for learning, shelter, meals, and structure. We know countless people’s health and livelihoods will be gravely impacted by COVID-19, and that catastrophic economic consequences of the pandemic will be felt long after the worst of the virus has passed. Like many others, we’re anxious and frustrated that so much—about the virus and its aftermath—is still unknown. 

Today’s educational landscape looks much different than last week’s, but our work remains the same: we still believe that every child deserves hands-on learning experiences that are grounded in their communities’ values and needs. We still believe that when adults trust young learners to follow their interests and let curiosity guide learning, it grows people with the flexibility and curiosity to build a better future. We still believe that building, creating, and making can be vehicles for profound learning, community care, and joy—yes, even during a pandemic. Perhaps, especially during a pandemic. 

Widespread school closures are impacting everyone’s ability to connect: teachers aren’t seeing students daily, and parents are building new learning structures on the fly. Because of the need for social distancing, we don’t know when we’ll be able to convene educators for in-person workshops again. That means: it’s time to get creative! These are our next steps: 

Our team has been meeting virtually and thinking about ways to connect with each other and our community remotely! Last week we did a design challenge for our morning warmup where everyone had to create a hat from materials found at home.

Ensuring the sustainability of our team:
First, we are asking staff to take care of their physical, mental, and emotional health and that of their families and community. We all need to find our way and settle into what is happening around us with patience and compassion for ourselves and each other. 

Listening to our community:
We’re already so inspired by the fortitude and grace that many educators have shown in the abrupt transition to distance learning. Now we’re asking: how can we support others as they take action? What gaps can we fill? What is useful today? Tomorrow? Next month? We have a lot of ideas, from lesson planning, to virtual office hours, to facilitating home learning opportunities for students. We can’t wait to see what else surfaces. 

Hosting making activities: Each week we will host a making activity via livestream. From cooking, to weaving, and engineering, we will share an activity for both kids and adults. Join us for our first one, on Wednesday, April 1st at 1:00pm PST / 4pm EST

Creating and curating resources:
We will be writing, updating, and curating project guides and resources that can be executed with readily available (household) materials, with the hope that these will be useful to educators and parents alike. In the fall, we plan on launching a new Resource Library and Member Network to make remote access to resources and connection easier and more effective.

We remain committed to a world where every child has access to learning that is equitable, inclusive, relevant, and responsive to learners’ needs. When students are engaged in making, they embrace creativity, innovation, and discovery, and have meaningful opportunities to collaborate, solve problems, and imagine a vibrant future. We stand with educators across the nation in upholding our commitment to those goals. 

Note: This blog post was edited on March 27th, 2020 to reflect updates to our plan for livestreaming making activities. A Zoom link which was previously shared in this post has been removed, and we will be hosting our live videos on our YouTube channel



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