The Post-Pandemic Classroom

Message from the SuperintendentDear Canutillo Community,

The roll-out of new COVID-19 vaccines in the months ahead offers great hope for a full return to the physical classroom. And the fact that these immunizations have an efficacy rate of 95%, based on comprehensive trials, increases our optimism for a grand homecoming. Some might say that mass vaccination will result in a return to normalcy. I suggest here that the physical classroom will never resemble what we left behind so abruptly in March. It will be better equipped to serve the needs of all students with technology, brightened by a renewed and fuller appreciation for physical presence and fortified by stronger teacher-parent partnerships.

By necessity, all of us took crash courses in the use of an array of technology-based platforms and applications. Just as first-time parents, we gained proficiency by being immersed into the challenges of parenting the day we came home from the hospital with our first-born. We have been dunked into the deep waters of the virtual. Because of this unintended educational experience, teachers will return to their beloved campuses well-equipped to deploy what they learned during this crisis in more familiar territory, consisting of bricks and mortar. They will be better prepared to complement face-to-face instruction with technology.

For instance, I see great promise in our ability to provide differentiated instruction more effectively. Imagine a teacher working directly with a small group of students in the classroom, while others are positioned at a bank of computers learning through virtual programs – platforms mastered by teachers during the health crisis. This is but one example. The sky's the limit. The possibilities are endless in terms of increasing our capacity to reach students at all levels.

I realize that some of these approaches existed before, but now many more faculty members have acquired technology skills that can be put to good use in post-pandemic classrooms. And many more online tools have been introduced during this stressful period to support remote teaching and learning.

Human beings, by nature, thrive on physical gathering. They are sustained through social connections. This is particularly true when it comes to education. Teachers are most effective when they can see their students’ reactions. They cannot “turn off the camera” when they are physically present in the classroom. Successful educators truly hear children’s voices. You cannot “turn off the audio” in a brick and mortar setting. Great teachers depend on their five senses to detect subtleties in the learning environment that can never be captured on a computer screen, which enables them to do their jobs at an optimal level. And students are no different in relation to learning. I am convinced that we have all gained a deeper appreciation for the physical classroom, which will refuel our passion for teaching when we return, not to normal but to better.

Another unanticipated effect of the health crisis is a strengthening of the partnership between parents and teachers. How many teachers have seen parents on their computer screens looking over the shoulders of their children as they help them navigate remote lessons? Most, if not all, I suspect. Parents now have a greater understanding of not only the content of the curriculum but also of pedagogy. They now better understand the many challenges faced by teachers as they strive to convey knowledge to their charges. And teachers now have a greater appreciation for the struggles parents face daily. I envision a post-pandemic classroom characterized by greater parent involvement and increased teacher communication with the home.

With all the horrible suffering and death our community has endured, it is important to maintain hope for a better tomorrow - to have faith that there is a silver lining. I firmly believe that there will be better days ahead in the post-pandemic classroom.

Dr. Pedro Galaviz
Superintendent of Schools