Message From Our Executive Director – July 2020

The COVID crisis deepens. All of us engaged in the endeavor of learning—students and teachers—now gather ourselves for what we know will be a strange, trying, and unpredictable school year ahead.

As your learning community makes its mad design dash to the start of the school year, with all your contingency plans and spreadsheets and multiple scenarios, don’t forget to keep your graduate profile, or whatever serves as your overarching set of desired learning outcomes, close at hand. Refer often to that list, and keep asking, How are we designing ways for our students to practice these skills? 

This pandemic is driving home the pre-pandemic truth that learning is not about seat time or content delivery or testing, all of which crumbled with startling quickness last spring. Learning has always been and will always be about improving one’s skills through practice, guided by coaching. Conceived as such, learning is remarkably flexible. Practice, guided by coaching, can happen at home independently, or on a video call, or in a sparsely desked classroom with children in masks. Establish practice routines for the key skills of your course. Introduce them as early as possible in the school year. Design those routines to be portable, and demonstrate that portability to your students by simulating at-home practice when you have them in your classrooms, and in-classroom practice when you have them on a video call. 

I have more to say about elevating the “practice question” in a blog I recently contributed to our friends at Future Focused Education. 

We can rise to this challenge, especially if we apply the principles of High-Quality Performance Assessment, and we can make school better than it was before.

In solidarity with educators everywhere,


Justin Wells, ELP Executive Director

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