Students, Teachers ‘Deserve Better Than a Return to Normal’ in the 2021-22 School Year

No matter what the 2021-22 school year brings, Lauren Partma is confident she’ll be able to handle it.

Partma, a history and English teacher at McKinley School of the Arts in Pasadena, Calif., learned a valuable lesson from all she experienced as an educator over the past year-and-a-half.

“Not let the little things bother me anymore,” Partma said. “I mean, we taught through a pandemic. It’s going to be OK.”

Partma shared her takeaways from teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic in a recent Facebook Live event for Summit Learning. Partma was joined in the engaging discussion by Kami Lewis Levin, a Professional Development Specialist for Gradient Learning.

Both agreed that the upcoming school year shouldn’t be viewed as a return to “normal,” referencing life before schools nationwide closed their buildings in March 2020. 

“Students and teachers deserve better than a return to normal,” Lewis Levin said. “We’ve learned and seen too much to go back to what was before. We need to continue moving forward.”

Partma acknowledges that last school year “was not without its challenges,” but she also looks back on several highlights she wouldn’t have experienced in a “normal” year. Partma, an avid musical theater fan, introduced “Hamilton” to her students so they could learn about history in an engaging way that included them performing their own historical rap battles, similar to the scenes in the popular musical. She also developed a project based on an investigative journalism podcast.

In both projects, Partma reached her students — whether virtual or in-person — in innovative ways while also fulfilling her own passion for teaching. As the unique year went on, Partma realized that hard-working teachers needed to focus on more than only how their students were feeling.

“Teacher wellbeing is just as important as student wellbeing because you can’t be the best teacher you can be if you’re constantly in a state of not feeling good enough or feeling drained,” Partma said. 

With so much attention now being placed on the amount of learning that was lost because of the pandemic, Partma offers a different perspective.

“I try to look at this past year not as learning loss, but learning gain,” Partma said. “Students learned flexibility and adapting skills. I think moving forward schools really need to take these past 18 months to see what worked well that we can bring into this next school year.”

Watch the full Facebook Live discussion here

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Summit Learning
Summit Learning is a research–based approach to education designed to drive student engagement, meaningful learning, and strong student–teacher relationships that prepare students for life after graduation. Created by teachers with experience in diverse classrooms, Summit Learning is grounded in decades of research about how children learn. With Summit Learning, students gain mastery of core subjects like math, history, English, and science, while also carefully developing the skills and habits of lifelong learners. Summit Learning is independently led and operated by the nonprofit, Gradient Learning.