Given his track record of studying and analyzing the real world of classroom-based instruction, Doug Lemov may not be the person you’d expect to be paving the way forward on online learning. But if you view Lemov’s work through the lens of the entrepreneurial, “find a way” spirit that sparked the modern education reform movement, it makes a little more sense.
The truth is that, right now, leaders like Lemov and his colleagues at Uncommon Schools and teachers and principals at Achievement First, Success Academies, my own Partnership Schools, and elsewhere are quickly adapting their visions for student support and teacher expectations to meet the challenge of this era of unplanned and unexpected remote learning. And so, as we think about how to minimize the impact of the nationwide school shutdown on our most vulnerable students, we should look to leaders for examples of how to do this well, rather than wish away the reality we are all facing.
Over the past three weeks, the challenges of urban education have grown enormously—more than anyone could have prepared for or predicted in such a short time. Friday, March 13 was the last day of in-person instruction for many of America’s school children. Beginning then, schools were confronted with a problem few thought we’d ever face at scale: how to serve students academically when we can’t actually meet with students in schools.