Facing Covid-19 with creativity and resilience

Learning Differences

9 April 2020

Most of us around the world are in at least our fourth week of social distancing, so hopefully the majority of us are managing to get into a new rhythm by now. In recent weeks, many of our partners have reached out to share how they are demonstrating their resilience and innovation in the face of these unprecedented circumstances. This week, we focus on our Learning Difference Programme partners who are quickly shifting to support students to learn remotely. They have been doing an impressive job of facing trying circumstances with creativity and resilience – read on to find out!

An alliance of national education organisations – including many Oak grantees – has come together to ensure equity for all learners. The EducatingAllLearners.org provides a hub of curated tools, strategies, tips, and best practices to support students with disabilities online. The coalition curates and creates special education resources for educators to serve students who learn differently during this time of challenge.

The Washington, DC-based National Center for Learning Disabilities has been actively informing deliberation of the Covid-19 Stimulus Bill in the US Congress. Its focus has been on protecting the legal rights of students with learning disabilities. It is providing updates on the latest developments and explanations of guidance and regulation from the US Congress, Department of Education and other federal agencies related to the Covid-19 response. It has also created two new resources that outline best practices for serving students with disabilities in these new environments, tailored specifically for parents and educators.

The National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools has created a resource guide to assist educators and school practitioners to develop comprehensive plans for students with disabilities. It aims to create effective and high-quality learning environments for all during this evolving national transition. It has also curated guidance and links to official regulations regarding educational services for students with disabilities, when schools cannot operate in traditional ways. Some 400 participants – including educators, district leaders and policymakers – joined a recent webinar focused on how best to support students with learning disabilities.

Education Week, an award-winning independent news organisation that provides news and analysis on education, has all of its journalists covering the many facets of the Covid-19 crisis. Its work includes: original news stories; a national survey of district and school leaders; opinion essays from thought leaders and practitioners; videos and downloadable resources; and virtual events and social media. Check it out for yourself here!

The Hill Learning Center, based in Durham, North Carolina in the US, is a learning hub for instruction for students with learning and attention challenges. In the face of Covid-19 restrictions, it quickly shifted to distance learning for the first time in its history by launching remote tutoring. It has also developed and shared guidance for delivering its unique HILLRAP methodology and supporting students remotely with partners and HILLRAP teachers

Lesley Institute for Trauma Sensitivity, based in Massachusetts in the US, seeks to support educators in developing safe, supportive, trauma sensitive learning environments. During the Covid-19 pandemic, it has been reaching out to teachers, who have an important role in times of student, school and community challenges. Lesley shares information to help educators practice self-care and remain resilient.  

In response to a volume of requests for advice about tools, content, and guidance for teachers and parents, NewSchools Venture Fund curated a list of free distance learning resources that are relatively easy for parents, students and educators to use from home. NewSchools Venture Fund invests in organisations that work to improve public education. Its list has already been widely shared as people find ways to keep students learning.

Transcend Education supports school leaders in developing, iterating, and scaling innovative learning models. It has created three resources for: schools trying to do distance learning; organisations trying to do virtual work; and families new to homeschooling. These resources are: a blog post with key lessons from learning science for families who have had to learn how to be educators overnight; a prototype “Pop-Up Homeschool Schedule Generator” for families and educators; and a carefully-curated, regularly-updated resource hub that pulls together the most useful practices and tools for remote learning and remote work.

Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence is providing insight into how evidence-based social emotional learning practices can support our ability to think clearly, make healthy decisions and behave productively during times of high stress and anxiety.

And finally, Teach for America has mobilised its network of current teachers, leaders and nearly 1,700 alumni to share ideas and exchange resources. It is also deploying resources to aid educators in supporting new forms of virtual student learning as it has become clear that it will have to fundamentally reinvent its approach to training teachers this summer in a matter of weeks.

Oak’s Learning Differences Programme believes that a better future and a good education are linked and that educated citizens contribute to healthier and more vibrant communities. Appreciating the value of education, our fundamental sense of justice demands that every child has the chance to develop skills and knowledge to realise his or her potential. We aim to promote, support and build systems that unlock the potential of all students, particularly those with learning differences and face additional adversity in school due to race, income, language, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender or religion. Read more about our strategy here.

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