Five Educational New Year’s Resolutions

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Over the past two years, educators in Connecticut have been challenged by pandemic-related logistical burdens, budget ups and downs, dramatic teacher shortages, and divisive rhetoric. This is in addition to the ever-present threat of COVID-19 and the uncertainty that accompanies localized outbreaks.

Given the growing importance of education as a pathway to economic and social opportunity, it is not enough to yearn for a return to normalcy. As we enter a new year, here are five resolutions for educators and policy makers to consider.

Improve digital learning infrastructure


In the urgent shift to remote learning during the pandemic, it has become painfully clear that we live in a technological landscape of “haves and have-nots”. A September 2020 report commissioned by the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities and Dalio Education indicated that 38% of residents in five Connecticut cities (Hartford, New Haven, Waterbury, New Britain and Bridgeport) do not have broadband at home. home, and 36% of households with incomes below the state median have no connectivity, compared to 11% of households with incomes above the median.

As Connecticut increases access to low-cost broadband through the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which includes $65 billion in grants to states for broadband deployment, it is essential that educational institutions partner with associations and government entities to remove barriers to technology and digital accessibility. access for learners of all ages.

Reinvent learning models

According to a report by the Christensen Institute, we are not short of options for reinventing education. New programs, technologies, pedagogies, and curricula have the potential to support college readiness for historically underrepresented students, including low-income populations, students of color, and those who will be the first in their families to attend. the university.

One model worth exploring is mastery-based learning, which allows educators to build a system of learning in which students are rewarded for perseverance. The Mastery Transcript Consortium, made up of public school districts, private schools and leading universities, is developing this idea.

Encourage self-care by educators

A recent survey by RAND Corp. found that while 40% of all employed adults reported experiencing significant work-related stress during the pandemic, that figure was nearly double for K-12 teachers (78%). Many pandemic-era teaching issues, such as stressed and confused students, technological challenges, and new learning systems, are linked to significant stress, depression, and burnout.

District leaders would do well to design and implement mental health and wellness initiatives for educators. Hiring behavioral health counselors not only for students, but also for teachers and paraprofessionals can help, as well as listening with empathy to teachers’ concerns about salary, time, and support needs.

Champion of Healthy Learning

Students today have reported increased feelings of anxiety, depression, and isolation. As we reimagine education in the wake of the pandemic, healthy learning is needed more than ever.

School leaders must develop methods and processes that emphasize a learning environment that provides holistic support for the student’s academic, physical, psychological and social self. To prioritize healthy learning, schools, colleges and universities can bring together research and practice from initiatives addressing basic needs; diversity, equity and inclusion; social and emotional learning; Mental Health; and character education. This work should extend to governance and community engagement, especially in our current politically charged environment.

Embrace regional education ecosystems

All elements of a regional education ecosystem—early learning, K-12, community colleges, colleges, and universities—are interconnected. Each of these interconnected entities has the power to partner effectively or painfully disrupt and disconnect learner journeys. Connecticut’s exceptional colleges and universities continue to provide a life-changing education for many, making a positive difference for individuals, families, and communities.

As Connecticut moves forward, dramatically changed by COVID-19, it is critical that institutions of higher education build alliances with local school districts to support their human resource goals and elevate the teaching profession. Partnerships like this can include professional development for current or future teachers and school districts serving as clinical learning sites for teachers-in-training, Connecticut’s next generation of educators.

The adoption and realization of these five resolutions depends on the collaboration of educators and their communities. We need to set aside historical “better than” arguments and embrace a “better with” reality: we are all in this together. Education is a game-changer, opens the door, and levels the playing field. As such, let’s engage in meaningful conversations and good work on each of these resolutions. Moving forward together will support our shared journey to new possibilities in 2022.

Rebecca L. Watts

is Regional Vice President of Western Governors University, an accredited, nonprofit, competency-based learning university serving 800 students and 1,600 alumni in Connecticut.
Marc David Milliron

is Senior Vice President of Western Governors University and Executive Dean of

teachers college

, the nation’s largest college of education.

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