If I had one teaching tool at my disposal in a classroom besides pencils, papers, and books, it would be an educational robot. A robot is the single most engaging learning tool I’ve used with students. It appeals to children of all ages, genders, and backgrounds—and it goes beyond technology to include so many learning goals. In fact, when I was at the pre-K-8 Park School, I considered it one of the most important social-emotional learning tools I’ve used.
While the start of the 2021 school year may not be as crazy as the beginning of the 2020 school year, it would be a mistake to pretend it is just like the Fall of 2019 or earlier. As COVID-19 continues to linger across the country, educators are again demonstrating the “can do” attitude and the spirit of innovation they exhibited at the height of the pandemic.
In the face of continued uncertainty related to the pandemic, families like mine prepared for a return to school that still looked a little bit more like normal this year. For many parents, teachers and caregivers who struggled through a year of remote learning, with all of its online homework assignments and Zoom classes, this has been a major relief.
With the academic year underway, K-12 schools have resumed in-person learning. However, there is growing concern amongst parents, students, teachers, and faculty that reopenings come with a variety of safety and health risks. Threats of public violence, mental health concerns, uncertainty around the Delta variant, and more all stand in the way of educators having a successful school year.
We live in a world where learning and technology are intrinsically linked, especially in the minds of our youth. But do today’s students process information differently because it comes on a digital device? Is there a correlation between technology use and plummeting literacy rates? And is the way our young people consume information negatively impacting their growth as learners?