Before social distancing, one of the most prevalent questions in classrooms was, “Will this [insert topic/statement/problem] be on the test?” Although a little piece of every educator’s heart perishes when students utter this query, it is understandable given that many of our educational systems have prioritized grades, scores, and observable measurements over depth of knowledge, curiosity, and skill development.
These systems have provided needed structure and accountability for the majority of high school students. External motivators work well for some students, and they supply an immediate, verifiable reward–or punishment–for effort and ability. For other students, external motivators are sources of excessive pressure and stress, even if they are successful at navigating the system and achieving high scores and grades.
COVID-19 has changed the game for all students and families.
Since the rules of the game have changed, how do schools and students pivot to respond to challenging circumstances? In this time of social distancing, many schools are now rolling out their distance-learning plans, if they haven’t done so already. In a variety of school districts, public and private, these are some of the educational trends we observe in the communities we serve:
- a reduced workload across all academic courses,
- a move away from daily assignments to project-based learning,
- a class schedule with Zoom check-in sessions 1-2 times a week,
- a loss of fine arts electives, and
- an institution of pass/fail grading for the fourth quarter or for the year-end grades.
We at Clayborne have seen this last point impact the motivation and effort of students who previously relied upon the external motivators of grades and test scores to foster their learning. We need a new way of approaching learning that meets the needs of students and families during these challenging times.
Fortunately, the goals of education remain, even if the external motivators have been put on pause. Students will need the intrinsic motivation to grapple with ideas, challenge their previously-held conceptions, develop skills and content knowledge, and manage their time well. They will still need structure and accountability as they develop new habits and skills and internal motivators. Building this foundation of intrinsic motivation to accomplish their goals will not only benefit their learning in the short term, but it will positively impact their lifelong learning and career enjoyment.
If Clayborne can help your student and family with structure, accountability, and development of internal motivation through our Academic Tutoring or Organizational Coaching, please submit an inquiry, send us an email, or give us a call!
It may no longer “be on the test” for the time being, but the opportunity to grow and learn has never been greater or more important than now.