To Infinity and Beyond the “Learning Gaps.”

Throughout the course of the pandemic, much has been shared about the negative impacts COVID schooling has had on students. From academics to social-emotional learning, a number of “learning gaps” and next steps have become a critical focus of educational dialogue and professional learning. As shared in the University of Toronto report titled, “Effects of School Closures During the COVID-19 Pandemic on Achievement Gaps and Learning Inequalities,” the gaps caused by school closures significantly disrupted school learning.

Specifically, the July 2021 report outlines that “growing evidence consistently shows that the COVID-19 pandemic will have lasting effects on children and youth and that school closures during 2020 and 2021 will impact students’ academic achievement. Achievement gaps between students of different backgrounds and skill levels are expected to increase further as a result of repeated school closures, unless innovative solutions and remedial strategies are implemented to help students recover
from the loss of learning.”

In recognizing such realities, it’s important to have and connect with students through an infinite mindset. With an infinite mindset, the potential to reimagine learning, close gaps and harness the gains students did make over the course of the past two years can lead to deep learning and a positive relationship with school.

After all, learning did happen, teaching was taking place and students were yearning for opportunities for deep learning. In fact, I’ve witnessed first hand this school year the power of deep learning and the wanting of real partnership between educator and student.

Listen to this episode of Dare to Lead to learn more about an infinite mindset with Simon Sinek.

Personally, in my joy of co-moderating Romero Visionaries, an after-school club composed of Gr. 9-12 creative-minded students, I’ve been deeply encouraged and inspired by their desire to learn deeply. Such an experience reinforced that learning most certainly took place during the pandemic and students ultimately want to learn. They thrive when invested in their interests and thrive in spaces where an infinity mindset is nurtured.

Romero Visionaries are currently in pre-production in a short film.

Take for example, the email below sent to me by a Romero Visionary. I found my eyes welling with tears of joy as this student yearned for more.

Students like this creative soul who has a deep love of learning, have found a way to persevere during a COVID impacted time and space. When “gaps” are often spoken of, we can easily forget or under value that real learning was in fact taking place. Perhaps it looked differently, but so many of our students gained so much through the efforts of dedicated educators, encouragement of their families and support of their peers.

The email shared, speaks to the importance of celebrating and focusing on “assets.” To always speak of “gaps” is to create a narrative that teaching and learning wasn’t happening. It was and successes were also mounting. 

As educators, let’s continue to build success and find ways to nurture our students fully.

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