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Superintendent's News

Posted: November 6, 2020

Good from a Pandemic

In his weekly message to employees, Supt. Elder shares some of the good that's come from remote learning.

 Lew Wallace Principal Anne Marie Strangio having a little YouTube fun

Lew Wallace Principal Anne Marie Strangio having a little YouTube fun

Can any good come from a global pandemic?

Actually, yes. Quite a bit. Just ask some of our school leaders. During a presentation before the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education on Nov. 4, a few of our principals described the positive side effects of remote teaching and learning.

They used words like responsiveness, innovation, communication.

They talked about student self-advocacy, teacher collaboration, family engagement.

They even acknowledged, dare I say, having fun.

At Lew Wallace Elementary School, for example, Principal Anne Marie Strangio described a tutoring collaborative that unites young students with isolated elders.

At La Cueva High School, Principal Dana Lee talked about the school’s peer-to-peer student support program and said more than 50 clubs continue to meet and initiate service projects.

Los Ranchos Elementary School Principal Craig Robinson described how they are incorporating social-emotional learning into math and language arts instruction, teaching students to focus on what they can control, letting go of what they can’t, and sticking to their goals.

Irene Cisneros, the principal at Atrisco Heritage Academy, talked about identifying barriers to learning and attacking absenteeism through personal phone calls, home visits, and classroom conversations.

And at Ernie Pyle Middle School, Principal Stacia Duarte described a computer program that helps teachers provide students with individual support and feedback.

“Virtual teaching and learning is hard, but in the middle of all that hardness we have found blessings and gifts,” Anne Marie told the board. 

“We have a lot to celebrate and we hope to continue many of the things we have learned into the future,” added Stacia. 

That’s an important point. Let’s face it, if we had our druthers we’d be in schools right now interacting in-person with our students and colleagues. Nothing trumps face-to-face instruction. But in our current weird situation, we find ourselves reflecting more on what we do – what we have always done – and why we do it. It’s making us stretch. It’s pushing us to challenge ourselves, and our students. It’s forcing us to improve.

That's a good thing.

For a while in public education, we kept adding and adding to what we taught, what we expected our kids to know – content that was described as a mile wide but only an inch deep. The pandemic has made us focus more on mastery of essential skills, habits, and knowledge that our students need most to succeed.

As educators, we are honing in on our own skills and knowledge as well, becoming experts in areas we maybe never imagined or desired (can anyone say Google Classroom and video conferencing). We are working together more, seeking additional professional development, learning contemporary skills to better serve our students.

Another side benefit of remote learning is a growing appreciation of public education. There’s a whole new respect for teachers and schools, and an improved partnership with families and communities. All of our principals talk about better communications and more family engagement. We don’t have a choice. We’re all in this together, after all.

Maybe the pandemic's most important outcome is how much better we are getting at building relationships, which can help us improve just about any situation. That’s a benefit we most definitely should carry into the future.

Note: Principal Anne Marie Strangio and her staff and students at Lew Wallace are lightening the mood by creating YouTube videos. Check out their latest, a Halloween celebration set to the song, "Who Are You."