Unlike many of the other guides and resources addressing online instruction and remote learning that have come out during the COVID-19 pandemic, we used educators’ experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic along with data and research to select the emerging practices that best address schools’ critical concerns during remote and hybrid instruction.
Overview of Data Collection
Literature review. Our work began with a dive into the emerging body of literature directly focused on 6-12 education during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to research reports, white papers, and policy briefs, the literature review also included many of the most recent guides aimed at helping educators navigate the 2020-21 school year. We sought sources that:
- Highlight and address the unique challenges that schools with Black, Latinx, and low-income students face, particularly the need to balance teacher support and coaching with the immediacy of student and family needs.
- Are based on data and/or insights from educators about instructional leadership and continuous improvement in relation to SEL, equity, anti-racism and anti-bias, cultural relevance and responsiveness, and current and post pandemic needs and opportunities.
While the literature review led us to the initial organization of the guide and a core set of strategies and resources, it was not exhaustive, and we will continue to add to it as we update the guide. We are incredibly energized by and grateful to all the organizations, researchers, practitioners, and media outlets who are trailblazing this robust and growing body of work around continuing to fight for equity and excellence in our educational systems and institutions.
Focus groups. Throughout the Summer of 2020, we held seven virtual focus groups with teachers, principals, and district administrators. The groups were a diverse mix of urban and rural, middle and high school educators, most of whom have only experienced remote learning as part of the pandemic. We asked the participants to share what has helped their students learn, homing in on what they can control (e.g., curriculum, teaching strategies, professional development, and social emotional supports).
Surveys. In partnership with Results Lab, we surveyed teachers and administrators across the country who are part of the Teacher2Teacher Network (a community of 1.7 million educators across digital channels) and the #PrincipalProject (a community of 45,00 grades 6-12 school leaders, including principals and assistant principals). We also reviewed summaries of Results Lab’s Covid-19 Community Dialogues’ Rapid Response Conversations with school leaders and teachers as well as summaries of similarly focused Twitter conversations.
Advisory Group. We convened a diverse group of eight education leaders from districts and intermediaries across the country to serve on our Advisory Group. This group will gather several times over the period of production to provide ongoing feedback on the development of the guide.
The administrators and teachers we interviewed and surveyed consistently agreed with each other about the biggest challenges. When sharing their hopes and concerns about student learning, teachers and administrators continually came back to several big questions:
- How can we get and keep students engaged while remote?
- How can we support social emotional learning?
- How can we make sure materials are relevant?
- How can we provide rigor balanced with compassion and individualization?
- How can we address students’ specific needs including students with IEPs and English learners?
- How can we provide clear, consistent communication in new and constantly shifting circumstances?
- How can we support families in these new circumstances?
- How can we maximize learning opportunities for students and adults?
- How can we provide adults with the learning opportunities to help meet this surge of new expectations?
The guide attempts to answer these questions and provide districts and schools the strategies and resources they need to build their own capacity for delivering exceptional instruction in a remote or hybrid environment.