Not all educational institutions have clear plans on how to spend funding in the most effective way--here’s what one nonprofit leader learned during the rapid transition to online learning in the spring

COVID-19 is leading to months of learning loss for students across the state of California. So state leaders are providing schools $5.3 billion in funding to try to address the issue moving forward. Much of that money is going to devices, software, and internet access for distance learning. The challenge for education organizations here and across the country is knowing how to deploy available funding to have the biggest effect on teaching and learning.

As the general manager of education, instruction, and operations at nonprofit Neighborhood House Association, I oversaw an urgent and unexpected transition to distance learning last spring. In the case of our children still preparing for kindergarten, we were fortunate enough to have an experienced partner to help us navigate the challenges. After experiencing the process, I learned four key lessons that will benefit schools and districts looking to support distance learning this fall.

Related content: The COVID crisis reminds us that education requires co-creation

Finding like-minded partners

Neighborhood House Association is a 105-year-old nonprofit organization based in San Diego. We operate 26 different social service programs that support children from pregnancy through their senior year of high school. As part of that work, we administer Head Start programs for about 7,000 students at 120 locations around San Diego. We don’t do it alone, though. We have partnerships with school districts, community colleges, childcare providers, and any other organizations committed to the education and welfare of children.

COVID-19 is leading to months of learning loss for students across the state of California. So state leaders are providing schools $5.3 billion in funding to try to address the issue moving forward. Much of that money is going to devices, software, and internet access for distance learning. The challenge for education organizations here and across the country is knowing how to deploy available funding to have the biggest effect on teaching and learning.

As the general manager of education, instruction, and operations at nonprofit Neighborhood House Association, I oversaw an urgent and unexpected transition to distance learning last spring. In the case of our children still preparing for kindergarten, we were fortunate enough to have an experienced partner to help us navigate the challenges. After experiencing the process, I learned four key lessons that will benefit schools and districts looking to support distance learning this fall.

Finding like-minded partners

Neighborhood House Association is a 105-year-old nonprofit organization based in San Diego. We operate 26 different social service programs that support children from pregnancy through their senior year of high school. As part of that work, we administer Head Start programs for about 7,000 students at 120 locations around San Diego. We don’t do it alone, though. We have partnerships with school districts, community colleges, childcare providers, and any other organizations committed to the education and welfare of children.

It was through my role as the chairman of the board for the National Head Start Association that Waterford.org came to be one of our most recent partners. This nonprofit provides early learning opportunities to families who are unserved or underserved by traditional high-quality preschool options. Over the years, this organization has partnered with many local Head Start organizations across the country.

As COVID was closing the doors of Head Start programs, childcare centers, and anywhere else students might be gathering to get ready for kindergarten, Waterford.org told us they wanted to help us fill that gap with the Waterford Upstart Summer Learning Path. This condensed three-month program would keep children on track to begin kindergarten in the fall, ready.

Offering professional development and family coaching

One big challenge in switching to distance learning is the training. Things were moving so fast at the end of the last school year that we just had to ask our teachers to jump in and start teaching. Honestly, we would have preferred to do more professional development with any new program or approach, but like everyone else in the country, we were forced into the deep end right away.

Professional educators are excellent learners, though, and they’ll figure out how to help students learn in a crisis. The training that proved to be crucial, however, was the family coaching Waterford.org provided.

Our students’ family members are not professional educators, but they were suddenly thrust into the role of being their children’s primary teachers. Waterford.org trained them in logging into the computers and software, if that was needed, and helped families understand how their students should use them. They explained the appropriate amount of time—15 minutes a day, five days a week—and explained what educational progress looks like and how to check in with their students and engage with them about what they’re learning. Each family had a family liaison who checked in weekly to help them overcome any challenges or answer any questions that arose.
source: Read More, eSchool News

Leave a Reply