President Trump recently announced that the social distancing guidelines he put in place a few weeks ago are being extended through at least April 30. Here in Colorado, Governor Polis followed that up by cancelling all schools until at least then as well. While COVID-19 has certainly left us with many questions, one major question on the minds of all parents is: What does all of this mean for schools and the education of our kids?
Though districts, schools, and educational companies everywhere are scrambling to put together virtual learning platforms in order to minimize the disruption, we are still left with an overwhelming sense of unknown. It is unknown when our kids will ever go back to school. It is unknown how they will adjust back to school. It is unknown how parents are supposed to keep working remotely while also facilitating the online learning of their kids. It is unknown how effective any of these learning efforts will be on actually fostering growth amongst our students.
While it’s scary, however, “unknown” is not actually something new to education. Educator Karl Fisch has stated, “We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist, using technologies that haven’t been invented, in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.” Education is a field based on the unknown or at least preparing for the unknown. It’s a field where every day is different and every kid is different. Each year brings a whole new array of unknowns for teachers to uncover and maximize. And, as Fisch stated, our ultimate goal is to prepare our students for a world of vast unknowns.
For us, as founders of a new school, we are well-versed in the unknown. Every day we grapple with questions that have no real answers and pieces that are beyond our control. We try to forecast the future while also making dozens of contingency plans. We keep our vision at the core of everything we do while also pivoting as necessary depending on all the relevant factors.
We pride ourselves on being “entrepreneurial educators,” which means:
Rather than feeling threatened, we view changes in the external environment as opportunities.
Rather than feeling defensive, we proactively seek new initiatives created by change and competition.
Rather than rely on formal lines of authority, we empower all of our staff and stakeholders to step up as needed.
Rather than focusing on preserving the traditional education system, we constantly consider what is best for our students and families and how to support that goal.
For us, at Einstein Academy, being entrepreneurial educators is such a part of who we are, and it’s part of why we always want to maintain a small school community. Being a small community is especially beneficial as we consider that the next year of unknowns hold for us:
Our focus on meeting all children where they are is a perfect way to get kids who have been out of school for months back on track.
Our small class sizes will make it easier for students to adjust back to being in a school setting in a supported way.
Our commitment to families means that we will truly support all parents and students over the coming months and years.
Also, because we will never have a huge staff with large overhead, we will always be well-positioned to address challenges and make necessary changes. We are built on a foundation of innovation and addressing communal needs with a commitment of keeping students at the center. As such, we are positioned to easily pivot when the unknown strikes.
We, as a school, have done a lot of thinking about what the current state of the world means for our plans at Einstein Academy, and, in-line with all that we have done in forming the school, our priority is to seek out and address the needs of the community. As such, we are focusing on three key areas:
Supporting families as we all navigate the rest of this school year. We aim to be a resource for parents as they are suddenly thrust into the role of educator while also maintaining all other roles.
Planning for the summer and the unknown that entails. We will be developing a virtual program with an Einstein-twist for kids who are unable to attend camp and no longer have the virtual learning structure provided by schools.
Preparing for the official opening of Einstein Academy on August 17. We are excited to be opening our doors (physical or virtual) for student-centered, engaging learning in just a few months and continue to build our program and welcome new families into our community.
For us, each of these components involves being entrepreneurial educators. We are very much aware of the changes in the world around us, and we are considering how we can be a resource to the community during this time. We are pivoting our approach and our offerings to address those needs, and we are working with anyone interested to make that happen. We are not committed to anything other than doing what is best for students (and families), so we are not bound by existing frameworks and burdensomes structures. We don’t have any underlying motivation.
We, like all of you, are faced with a great deal of unknown. But we’re educators...we’re ready for this.