Face to face, hybrid or distance: this school year will be like no other.
With the pandemic requiring many students to distance themselves from the classroom while still finding ways to learn, educators are being forced to get creative and re-imagine education this year.
School districts are funded based on the number of students they have enrolled, and with that, they are also responsible for measuring hours of instruction for each student.
N.D. State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler explains that school year 20/21 will look different. “For now for this year, if a student is enrolled in a school district, that school district will receive the full funding for that student regardless if they’re receiving instruction and progress monitoring, distance, or in person,” explained Baesler “That is why if there could be another silver lining or asset that could come out of this pandemic. It is that it’s allowing 175 school districts across the state to incubate some ideas and develop some plans.”
So, what could this re-imagined form of instruction time look like?
Bismarck Public Schools Agricultural Education Instructor David Axt has insight into instruction time outside of the classroom. “Experiential learning as we use through our Supervised Agricultural Experience is a great way we can implement it into other subject areas. We don’t just focus on the learning standards that exist in agriculture. There is going to be some math standards that fall into that, there’s gonna be some science that falls into that,” explained Axt.
One of Axt’s students, Jayden MacDonald, has been doing Supervised Ag Experience for five years. He has done two SAE’s; a beef cattle herd and sweet corn operation. MacDonald thinks experiential learning could help educators re-imagine how they instruct their students. “A lot of times they get taught these skills and then every student wants to know where am I gonna use this in real life, well show them how they’re gonna use it in real life. Show how the knowledge you’re giving them is going to help them later on,” said MacDonald.
State Superintendent Baesler, and everyone KX News spoke to for this report, agrees face-to-face learning is the foundation of successful instruction for every student.
However, Baesler’s rival this November, Underwood Superintendent Brandt Dick, is leery of straying too far away from traditional face-to-face learning. “My concern with personalized learning is ok you do your passions and everything else, a lot of times kids at that age they don’t know what their passions are, they don’t know what areas they’re going towards so you have to have that foundation. How many kids have had a teacher that has inspired them. I don’t want to get too far away from that because personalized learning. If you’re not careful pretty soon you will get well that’s online that’s whatever else,” said Dick.
Baesler says communicating with students and their families is key to forming successful hybrid and distancing models of instruction. “So make sure you visit those who are on the receiving end of it before you make a wholesale statement that traditional learning works best.”
Baesler says legislators will be grappling with what happens this school year in the upcoming legislative session.
The student we spoke with, Jayden MacDonald, is preparing to enter his freshman year of college at NDSU where he will be majoring in Agricultural Education. Kudos to MacDonald from everyone at KX News.