UofSC faculty experts: Teacher Appreciation Week 2020

Teacher Appreciation Week is May 4-8, 2020. Faculty at the University of South Carolina are available to discuss a variety of topics related to education and the impact of COVID-19. To arrange an interview, contact Carol Ward, ward8@mailbox.sc.edu, 803-777-7549.

Will COVID-19 be the death of summer vacation?

COVID-19 has forced the closure of schools nationwide – in some cases for the rest of the school year. Jon Pedersen, dean of the college of education at the University of South Carolina, can discuss what the school shutdowns could mean for the traditional summer break and whether and how schools will make up for lost time.

"Many teachers have reported that some students are absent for the online classes that are being held in place of regular classes," Pedersen says. "In most cases this is in areas that lack connectivity and in communities that are economically challenged. This means many schools and districts will have to plan interventions for children who’ve fallen behind."

Schools districts may consider continuing in the summer as an option to remediate students prior to the start of a fall. However, Pedersen says a blanket approach is not the best option and that decisions should be made by each school district in conjunction with state education agencies.

Structure, conversation are important for students learning at home

For teachers to prepare, get through, and, eventually, move past the pandemic, they need to focus on what is most important, says Beth White, undergraduate program coordinator in the University of South Carolina's College of Education.

"The events going on around us are our reality. Remember the passion that brought you to this profession. How can you best continue to support your learners while providing the forum for them to learn the content?" White says.

For young children learning at home, structure is imperative. With parents being inundated with virtual communication, teachers need to be organized, goal-orientated and succinct in their exchanges, she says. For parents, she recommends creating a schedule for the day and letting school-aged learners contribute to the planning.

White can also address the importance of relationships of students in higher education and their program faculty.

How will COVID-19 affect children's education?

Jon Pedersen, dean of the University of South Carolina College of Education, is available to discuss how the unprecedented situation created by the COVID-19 pandemic might affect the education of millions of children, how teachers are creatively addressing the situation and potential options for making up lost time.

Pedersen says it is a challenge for educators to keep students motivated when learning from home and that teachers are being more creative and resourceful than ever while schools are closed. Even so, students may need to make up for lost learning time.

"I would not rule out some sort of extended school year for schools, but I do believe that the rapid response of states, districts, schools and teachers have reduced the likelihood that extreme measures will be needed," Pedersen says.

To arrange an interview with Pedersen, contact Carol Ward, ward8@mailbox.sc.edu, 803-777-7549.

Relaxation techniques can help reduce COVID-19 anxiety

Eva Monsma, physical education professor of developmental sport psychology, explains how applying sport psychology skills such as mindfulness, mental practice, goal setting and progressive relaxation can help to reduce anxiety related to COVID-19 for both students and parents who are learning and working from home.

Building relationships between families and schools improves student experience

Research suggests family engagement is related to improved academic achievement, student development, graduation rates and test scores. It can also positively affect teacher satisfaction with their jobs and parent satisfaction with schools, says Lorelei Swanson, Upstate regional liaison for the Carolina Family Engagement Center.

COVID-19 has presented challenges and opportunities for the center. March and April were expected to be key months for training and planning. When schools closed, the focus changed dramatically to respond to the immediate needs of students, families and schools and to disseminate important COVID-19 information and resources.

Swanson says that one of the most exciting projects has been organizing an online virtual talent show that allows students to showcase their artistic talents with their family members. The shows – which have included singing, dancing, acting, artwork and poetry – give families an opportunity to connect and decompress by doing something creative together.

Swanson and Carolina Family Engagement Center Director Karen Utter are available to discuss how the center’s partnerships with 25 public schools in South Carolina are encouraging and supporting family engagement programs and activities for better student outcomes.

As standardized test use has grown, has their effectiveness?

James D. Kirylo, education professor, questions the misuse and overuse of standardized testing and whether it is a wise use of taxpayer dollars. Each year, more than 100 million standardized tests are administered to public school students in the United States – with most students taking approximately 112 standardized tests by the time they graduate from high school. That number far exceeds testing in the early 1990s when students took between 18 and 21 tests by the time they graduated from high school, and far less prior to that time period. Annually, standardized testing costs the states approximately $1.7 billion.

Share this Story! Let friends in your social network know what you are reading about