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Teaching Innovation – How to Educate 56.6 Million Students Without School Buildings
February 26, 2021

It is truly an impressive feat that teachers across the nation have managed to tackle the jarring transition from traditional in-person learning to fully online education. All in a couple of weeks, if not days, due to the blanket school closures and nationwide stay-at-home orders enacted mid-March 2020. Now nearly a year later, the dust has somewhat settled, and educators can objectively view teachers' needs that are not being met.

Teachers were never prepared to teach online, and with the whirlwind and chaos of this past year, most still are in the dark about how to best teach online. 56.7% of teachers report that they are "not prepared to facilitate remote learning" [1]. Few were provided with professional development to train to teach online. The majority of those offered training were provided with insufficient resources and lacked data-based research on best practices. Teachers are doing their best, but most are essentially winging it, and has created a huge hurdle for the students struggling to adapt to the new ways of learning, right alongside the teachers. The question that faces educators everywhere is: how to educate the 56.6 million K-12 students effectively, engagingly, and ultimately provide a superior learning experience compared to traditional methods, all without school buildings? The answer is teaching innovation and widespread education for teachers about online instruction best practices [2]. 

Educators across the country have adopted innovative ways to improve their students' online learning experience and results. 

Here are some key teaching innovations: 

  • Increase reach of excellent teachers
  • Co-teaching models
  • Abandoning uniform class sizes and time blocks
  • Individualized teaching methods for elementary, middle, and high school levels
  • New instructional cycles [3] 

Increasing the reach of excellent teachers is an innovation that can significantly impact students and teachers alike. Learning and growing from a highly skilled educator who has mastered the delivery of specific topics that are difficult for some teachers to relay to students online certainly has appropriate applications. Having recorded lectures on topics that supplement a teacher's regular lesson plan taught by a proven successful educator can help model excellent teaching and leadership methods and provide students with high-quality instruction to improve learning. 

Expanding the co-teaching/teaching team model as an alternative to the traditional single teacher model is an innovation gaining increased support and adaptation in schools to make teaching online more effective and personalized for students. Co-teaching is reported to make the job more manageable, enable joint planning, and distribute teaching responsibilities based on individual teacher strengths. One teacher can focus on teaching the lesson while another teacher focuses on the student's individual needs. The additional teacher(s) help keep students stay focused and engaged and enable more small-group activities and individualized support for the students who need it most. This personalized teaching model ensures that teachers are getting to know students better individually, increasing their ability to "provide social, emotional, and academic support for students and to build the relationships that research has shown are foundational to learning" [4]. With one-on-one time with students, it is important to understand best practices in teaching online to make the most of these sessions.

Abandoning uniform class sizes and time blocks allows more flexibility and the ability to focus on student needs. When switching to online education, 7-hour school days presented variable challenges for the different grade spans. Alternative staffing structures were created for elementary, middle, and high schools to tailor education to students' developmental needs. "The earliest grades focus on live instruction in small groups and limit screen time." For middle school, instead of a teacher teaching the whole school their subject, they now adopt the team-teaching model and have teachers from various subjects on one team and focus on one grade. The thought process behind this decision by an innovative school was, "we were really investing in relationships and the need for a sense of belonging that middle schoolers have" and "teachers get to know a small group of students very well academically in multiple courses and can leverage their strong relationships with students" [5]. In high school, the focus "on developing students' independence in preparation for college. During remote instruction, students attend larger lectures or seminars a few times a week, then spend the rest of their time focused on completing projects, with small group workshops to provide targeted help as needed" [6]. Co-teaching is also used as one teacher lectures, another teacher provides support when needed. 

Other schools have adopted a different school year schedule to minimize learning loss by spreading vacation days throughout the year more evenly. This gives students a needed break, allowing them to return recharged and ready to learn, more importantly, minimizes learning loss that accompanies longer breaks. The need to minimize learning loss is immense due to COVID-19. "Students on average could lose five to nine months of learning by the end of June 2021. Students of color could be six to 12 months behind, compared with four to eight months for white students" [7]. This loss will only be exacerbated by the "summer slide" – a term that refers to the loss of learning over the summer break. They are not actively reinforcing the knowledge learned during the previous school year. "Researchers estimate that students lose on average the equivalent of one to three months of achievement gains over the summer" [8]. The Corona Generation of students cannot afford any additional learning loss.  Additionally, regular breaks allow for "a regular cycle for staff to analyze and reflect on data, set goals, and adjust instruction" [9] and provide an opportunity for teacher training that is so greatly needed. The innovation of spreading vacation time more evenly throughout the year seems like a great solution to minimizing learning loss and providing teachers with the time to evaluate and learn to grow into more effective teachers. 

Teacher training in best practices and innovative teaching methods is becoming increasingly important. More than half of teachers say they are unprepared for remote learning and that 42.8% of teachers are in the driver's seat, solely responsible for deciding what remote teaching methods and tools they will use to teach their classes. Only 36.3 % reported that the district helped make these decisions, and 18.8% said school leadership provided directives [10]. When teachers who are unprepared for online education, unapprised of best practices, and must make these important decisions on top of their teaching duties is a recipe for disaster. It is clear that education in best practices is needed when only 34.1% of teachers planned to use video recordings in their lesson plans and only 12.7% planned to use live video streaming to teach a lesson [11]. Many students miss the face-to-face interaction with teachers completely and are provided with unengaging learning material in a home environment with many distractions.   

How Can Schools Launch Teacher a Training Platform Quickly and Easily?  

There are 3.7 million teachers [12] in the United States, and the majority need teacher training in best practices and innovative teaching models. To recover from the learning loss associated with COVID-19 teachers must be trained in topics such as: 

  • Engaging students 
  • Teaching effectively
  • Providing feedback appropriately
  • Navigating online teaching safely and securely 
  • Building relationships with students to further learning and help with mental health 

Districts must take control and provide teachers with cohesive teaching guidelines rather than leaving it up to the individual teacher to make significant and impactful decisions. The main issue for districts is that they do not have readily available comprehensive custom training or adequate IT support to create the needed online learning platforms.   

The answer? Partner with an online learning platform company to easily launch teacher upskilling courses with no additional IT support. Securing an online learning platform that provides custom-curated content specific to your school and teachers' needs what your school needs to succeed. A smart partnership provides expertly curated, up to date and turn-key upskilling courses meeting and exceeds industry best practices to support your teacher training goals.   

Here are some key elements that a teacher upskilling courses and platforms need:   

  • Ready-to-go teacher training courses on top skills
  • Engaging delivery methods to keep teachers interested in learning  
  • Turn-key systems capable of immediate implementation with no learning curve  
  • Custom branded platform and content specific to each district or school  

Upskilling your teachers will make or break student's educational experience. With 56.6 million students currently attending K-12 schools and a projected enrollment increase of an additional 51.4 million students by 2028 [13], online teaching issues need to be addressed now.   

Online education is a whole new beast, and teachers are equipped with the knowledge equivalent to a toothpick when trying to conquer it when they need Excalibur's sword.  

Amesite is the Secret Weapon Your Teachers Need

Launch a system easily and quickly that upskills your teachers, comprehensively preparing them for online instruction and educating them on innovative teaching models. Training will result in confidence in teaching online and cultivate best-in-class teachers, improving students' learning experience and aid in the recovery of learning loss.   

An innovative platform is required to support the innovative new ways of improving teaching. "When asked to specifically name a resource that the teachers planned on using for remote learning, no company product scored more than 10%. That has to be a blow to the entire EdTech industry that's spent years and billions of dollars in product design and marketing" [14]. That is why Dr. Ann Marie Sastry, Amesite's CEO, founded a new and vastly improved type of online learning platform. She recognized that there was no available option in the EdTech market that properly met schools' immediate needs and the needs of the future of education, so one needed to be created.   

Amesite is a high-tech AI-powered online learning platform and the key to upskilling your teachers to be completely comfortable teaching online. We specialized in scalable, custom branded online learning environments and provide expertly curated, up to date and turn-key upskilling courses that meet and exceed industry best practices to support your teacher upskilling goals. We have subject matter experts who design innovative and custom content for courses that provide excellent value to your teachers. A host of self-paced, highly engaging, and intuitive courses can be launched for your district or school in just days.   

Amesite provides solutions to your problems in a single, easy-to-use platform for compliance and training. With Amesite, you can:   

  • Deploy a fully managed teacher upskilling platform plus customized courses that enable your school to deliver job-specific certifications for your staff quickly and efficiently. With Amesite, you just hit the easy button, and you can scale an entire teacher training curriculum in 30 days.  
  • Use AI and machine learning to identify trends and make informed decisions while upskilling your teams with comprehensive data analytics and customizable dashboards.  
  • Attract and keep employees engaged with social media-inspired interface design and the most up-to-date content. Build employee networks that improve your school's success.  
  • Easily integrates with existing educational tools and systems while also enabling the integration of best-in-class third-party tools and custom-built features.   

Amesite creates outstanding learning experiences delivered on its advanced platform, best in class for ease-of-use, incorporating an intuitive and clean design. Using AI and advanced analytics to provide fresh content creates an important context for learning. Coupled with outstanding services, these experiences will deepen teachers' interest in subjects important to their school's goals and spur creative ways to execute new practices. Amesite's unprecedented retention rate is 98% over all sectors.   

Amesite can upskill your teachers and help them slay the beast of online education. Request a Demo!   

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References: 

[1 Forbes. Mar. 26, 2020. Most Teachers Say They Are 'Not Prepared' To Teach Online. https://www.forbes.com/sites/dereknewton/2020/03/26/most-teachers-say-they-are-not-prepared-to-teach-online/?sh=228478777f2c Accessed Feb. 24, 2021. 

[2] Education Data. 2019. K-12 School Enrollment & Student Population Statistics.  https://educationdata.org/k12-enrollment-statistics/#:~:text=In%202019%2C%20approximately%2056.6%20million,school%20in%20the%20United%20States.&text=Among%20the%2050.8%20million%20students,3.7%20million%20were%20in%20kindergarten Accessed Feb. 24, 2021. 

[3-6] Future Ed. Feb. 2021. Teaching Innovation New School Staffing Strategies Inspired by The Pandemic.  https://www.future-ed.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Report_Teaching-Innovation-1.pdf Accessed Feb. 24, 2021. 

[7] Mckinsey. Dec. 8, 2020. COVID-19 and learning loss—disparities grow and students need help. https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/public-and-social-sector/our-insights/covid-19-and-learning-loss-disparities-grow-and-students-need-help Accessed Feb. 24, 2021. 

[8] The Century Foundation. May 12, 2020. Expanding Access to Summer Learning in Response to COVID19. https://tcf.org/content/report/expanding-access-summer-learning-response-covid-19/?session=1 Accessed Feb. 24, 2021. 

[9] Future Ed. Feb. 2021. Teaching Innovation New School Staffing Strategies Inspired by The Pandemic.  https://www.future-ed.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Report_Teaching-Innovation-1.pdf Accessed Feb. 24, 2021. 

[10] Forbes. Mar. 26, 2020. Most Teachers Say They Are 'Not Prepared' To Teach Online. https://www.forbes.com/sites/dereknewton/2020/03/26/most-teachers-say-they-are-not-prepared-to-teach-online/?sh=228478777f2c Accessed Feb. 24, 2021. 

[11] Forbes. Mar. 26, 2020. Most Teachers Say They Are 'Not Prepared' To Teach Online. https://www.forbes.com/sites/dereknewton/2020/03/26/most-teachers-say-they-are-not-prepared-to-teach-online/?sh=228478777f2c Accessed Feb. 24, 2021. 

[12] Education Data. 2019. K-12 School Enrollment & Student Population Statistics.  https://educationdata.org/k12-enrollment-statistics/#:~:text=In%202019%2C%20approximately%2056.6%20million,school%20in%20the%20United%20States.&text=Among%20the%2050.8%20million%20students,3.7%20million%20were%20in%20kindergarten Accessed Feb. 24, 2021. 

[13] Education Data. 2019. K-12 School Enrollment & Student Population Statistics.  https://educationdata.org/k12-enrollment-statistics/#:~:text=In%202019%2C%20approximately%2056.6%20million,school%20in%20the%20United%20States.&text=Among%20the%2050.8%20million%20students,3.7%20million%20were%20in%20kindergarten Accessed Feb. 24, 2021. 

[14] Forbes. Mar. 26, 2020. Most Teachers Say They Are 'Not Prepared' To Teach Online. https://www.forbes.com/sites/dereknewton/2020/03/26/most-teachers-say-they-are-not-prepared-to-teach-online/?sh=228478777f2c Accessed Feb. 24, 2021.