This past year has thrown both educators and students for a loop. The COVID-19 pandemic shuttered schools all over the world. While some have slowly reopened, others have remained closed, choosing to prioritize online learning for the school year’s duration. It’s impossible to know what the impact of such a change will be, but it’s clear that achieving academic success is more difficult now than ever before. In addition to COVID-19, schools in many American states are also dealing with natural disasters in the form of severe hurricanes. 

Texas and Louisiana, in particular, have been affected by several hurricanes and, more recently, a cold-weather spell that left residents reeling. For students, the warnings of these natural disasters initially meant classes would temporarily switch to online. But in some cases where power outages, flooding, and other forms of destruction resulted, classes had to be canceled outright. All of this to say, educating students and helping students succeed is no easy task right now. There is a lot of adversity to be overcome with the current state of the world. 

Dr. Marcus Jackson is an educator from Atlanta, Georgia, who currently works in Lake Charles, Louisiana. He has dedicated his life to fostering social development in schools and helping students with academic achievement. He discusses a few ways educators can help students achieve academically throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and other adverse events like Louisiana hurricanes. 

Adopt A New Teaching Method

According to Dr. Marcus Jackson, teachers need to be prioritizing student achievement above all else right now. For him, this means adopting and implementing the Cycle of Academic Excellent Framework. This framework outlines the best way for an educator to teach their students if they wish to maximize academic achievement. 

The first part of this framework is Lesson Planning. Dr. Jackson shares that educators should be preparing material for lessons, making a list of clear objectives and essential vocabulary for that lesson, and identifying precisely what they want each individual student and the entire class to take from the lesson. 

The second part of the framework is centered on lesson annotation/studying. Here, Dr. Jackson claims that educators need to ensure their students understand the lesson’s objective and how it connects to prior knowledge they have learned in the classroom. This step also involves the educator making connections between the lesson and real-life and identifying which parts of the lesson the students may have trouble grasping. A good teacher should always be able to anticipate any misconceptions about the lesson and plan accordingly. 

The third part of the Cycle of Academic Excellence has to do with modeling. In this step, educators must clearly state the lesson’s objective to their students, review the progression of the lesson, demonstrate expectations regarding what the students should have learned or taken away from the lesson, and use positive affirmations to encourage students.

Part four is called Teaching/Observing, and this section of the framework asks educators to reflect on their lesson and how their students responded to the task. Dr. Marcus Jackson says that in part four, teachers should ask themselves questions such as “What are the students doing?”, “How many students were able to achieve the task?”, and “If the students complete the task, what skills will they have learned by the end?”

The second last part of the framework is called feedback. During this step, educators are encouraged to provide timely and preferably oral feedback to the students. This can be done both individually and as a class. The feedback should be honest but supportive, giving specific avenues for improvement. 

Dr. Marcus Jackson on Follow Up

The last part of the Cycle of Academic Excellence that Dr. Marcus Jackson recommends all teachers adopt during this trying year is the follow-up. To ensure students have listened to the feedback you gave them and show that you care and teach them about accountability, Dr. Jackson believes all educators need to follow up with their students. Ideally, follow-ups should occur between three and five days after the feedback was given and should focus on the specific pieces of advice offered to improve. Again, this conversation should be supportive, honest, and constructive.