“What you get out of something is what you put into it,” is a popular saying that, in one form or another, can be sourced back to various authors including John Key, Clint Eastwood, and Jennifer Lopez. This saying can be applied to numerous areas of life, from building relationships to training for a competition. Never has this phrase rung more true than in the current educational predicament we find ourselves trying to navigate. Remote Learning has become the educational catchphrase of the moment. Living rooms have been turned into classrooms and kitchen tables have become lab tables and work-stations. More questions than answers seem to exist, and parents and teachers all find themselves searching for ways to keep students engaged in learning while confined to their own spaces.
Guidance from the Illinois State Board of Education provides recommendations for grading based upon the principle of no educational harm to any child with recommendations for a pass/incomplete system. Student responsibilities during this time are to review and complete assigned work, ask clarifying questions when help is needed or understanding becomes difficult, and to be respectful to themselves, teachers and peers. Student motivation to perform educational tasks has always been a concern, but motivation has become even more challenging during this difficult time. Disengagement on behalf of students is where the real educational harm will take place and where the saying, “you get out what you put in” will start to ring true.
Our plan is to assess the material that has been sent home at a later date. Exactly what that will look like continues to be one of the many unanswered questions. If we are fortunate to return to school in May, that assessment might come in the form of “homework quizzes” that many students are already accustomed to. These could easily be renamed as “packet assessments” and be used to assess what work was completed during the time away from the traditional classroom. One way or another, the work that students complete (or don’t complete) during this time will be assessed somewhere down the road. That assessment might be tied to an actual class grade or may take on another form and be assessed through a student’s performance on a college entrance exam or state assessment. It might show up on a scholarship application or in a letter of reference. The effort a student puts into doing the work that has been assigned over this time will come back to them in one form or another down the road. Hopefully, what students will “get back” is increased knowledge, a sense of accomplishment and a better understanding of the topics assigned to them. Abraham Lincoln once said, “I will prepare and someday my chance will come.” Students please continue to prepare (do the work that has been provided to you) and someday your chance will come (to reap the benefits of that preparation either educationally, professionally or both).