The Benefits of Reflection in School Discipline

During my year as suspension monitor, I had many opportunities to interact with students, and I made it my goal to discover the root cause of their behaviors. I found that just spending time with them, informally talking one-on-one about why they did the things they did that resulted in suspension, seemed to make a difference. Students who were frequent visitors to the suspension room became infrequent visitors. And I learned that outside of the suspension room, they were improving in their acad

Does Learning Loss Exist?

It is widely understood the reopening of schools is essential and has become a talking point of emphasis for government officials. The call to open schools should solely focus on safety, given the fact that schools should have been well prepared for remote learning during the 2020-2021 school year. A prominent claim amongst proponents for opening schools is the idea that students are experiencing learning loss. The mention of learning loss, particularly during a pandemic, is displeasing to many educators as most teachers work tirelessly after hours to provide the best educational experience that rivals in-person instruction. Parents will attest that their efforts should be applauded as they assist in their child's academic growth.

Rethinking Family Engagement This Year

I’ve observed teachers coming up with innovative ideas to help students become more engaged. Teachers can use Jamboard, Seesaw, Pear Deck, and Kahoot, but they can’t create incentives and activities to boost the engagement of chronically absent students. Distance learning has created many challenges, particularly in terms of engaging students, and educators are making great efforts to capture their attention. While engagement is essential for student success, perhaps the concept of engagement n

Black History and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Are Not Synonymous

February is Black History Month, in which schools across the country will plan activities to spotlight the accomplishments of Black people. That recognition is essential, but it also poses a risk—some schools will plan events under Black history that really should be called something else. That may be well intentioned, but the confusion hampers progress. The confusion occurs in schools every year, particularly in February. I have seen this in multiple schools throughout my educational journey.

Building parent-teacher relationships is hard. Remote learning makes it harder.

Several years ago, I sat in a parent-teacher conference and observed a teacher speak to a student from a place of compassion and concern. Once the teacher finished, the parent turned to the child and reiterated the same sentiments. I thought to myself, that is the power of a stable parent-teacher relationship. It was a joy to see and feel no need to intervene. I’ve also been thinking about the beginning of last school year, when my wife and I took our children to school on their first day. The

Leading in Uncertain Times by Empowering Others

There’s a lot of debate about what it takes to lead and how to define leadership, but for me, leadership is using your influence to empower others. The challenges of this work are vast and ever-changing—and that was true even before the pandemic upended schools. This year will bring not just the challenges of the ongoing pandemic but also difficult conversations that many students will want to have about racial justice and equity in the wake of the killing of George Floyd. But regardless of the

How Schools and Teachers Can Get Better at Cultural Competence

The murder of George Floyd has led to a movement to hold police departments and officers accountable. It’s also an opportunity for educators to work on becoming culturally competent in a diverse society. The National Education Association describes cultural competence as “having an awareness of one’s own cultural identity and views about difference, and the ability to learn and build on the varying cultural and community norms of students and their families.” The differences that make individua

5 Lessons Learned That Should Be Informing Preparations for 2020-21

COVID-19 has altered the way the world operates. It has essentially rewritten the rules for interaction. With increasing pressure from politicians, some states have set guidelines for reopening schools while other states have declared that the first few months of school will begin with remote learning. There is much debate about flattening of the curve for COVID-19 and whether or not schools should reopen in the fall. The debates are loud, and opinions vary. Threats of withholding funds from sch

What Racism in Schools Looks Like

As the world has paused to analyze the deficiencies of police departments, it is not enough. All aspects of America have to examine areas of systemic injustice. That includes schools, which now have an opportunity to rise to the occasion and improve. American schools are de facto segregated based on income and ethnicity. Where students live determines the quality of education students will receive. Black and Latinx communities receive less educational opportunities than white communities. What

Closing the Distance During Social Distancing

With spring break now behind us, districts are facing the reality that schools may not open for the remainder of the school year. The social distancing order created a rush for districts to execute the best home instruction processes for stakeholders. Parents are making their best attempts to balance work and managing student workloads, while educators strive to provide academic support from a distance. Without physical contact with students, teachers are relegated to communicating with parents

COVID-19 and the Switch From Standardized Testing to Performance-Based Assessments

COVID-19, a respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, has upended education across the country. Many states have decided social distancing through virtual learning is the best safeguard to combat COVID-19. Governors across the country have announced the closure of its schools. Most have closed until further notice; the CDC suggests a minimum of eight weeks. During an evolving influenza pandemic, community mitigation strategies, such as social distancing, can slow down virus transmission in

Subscribe to get sent a digest of new articles by George Farmer, Ed.D.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.