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Our Kids Are Not Broken: The Atlantic Piece by Ron Berger

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    Ron Berger

In this The Atlantic article, Ron Berger, Senior Advisor of Teaching & Learning at EL Education, shares his thoughts on how educators can define their students by their potential instead of their deficits.

Read the full The Atlantic article today or an excerpt here:

Our kids have lost so much—family members, connections to friends and teachers, emotional well-being, and for many, financial stability at home. And, of course, they’ve lost some of their academic progress. The pressure to measure—and remediate—this “learning loss” is intense; many advocates for educational equity are rightly focused on getting students back on track. But I am concerned about how this growing narrative of loss will affect our students, emotionally and academically. Research shows a direct connection between a student’s mindset and academic success.To foster students’ growth, districts should think beyond traditional ways of grading and teaching. Instead of federal and district test results becoming labels, handed down as if from on high, districts should use them diagnostically, as guides only, and encourage teachers to collaborate with students in understanding their skill profiles so that the kids feel empowered in their own development. Schools should also recognize their students’ resilience over this past year, support their healing and emotional growth, and honor them with meaningful and challenging academic work, not with remedial classes. That’s how we’ll get our children back on track.

"Next time you hear the phrase learning loss, think about whether we really want to define our students by their deficits instead of their potential."

Ron Berger, Senior Advisor, Teaching & Learning, EL Education

Districts face a hard reality, though: Many children lost a great deal of academic growth last year; some kids didn’t attend school at all. Districts need to know which students need extra support, including tutoring in and outside the classroom. But educators need to assess students’ abilities in a way that motivates them to grow.If students know that teachers value and believe in them, no matter what they have gone through over the past year, educators can create a classroom environment where high expectations are the norm. When students feel empowered, they care more and work harder. Next time you hear the phrase learning loss, think about whether we really want to define our students by their deficits instead of their potential.