When One Schoolhouse got ready to launch our 2020-2021 course offerings, we had no idea how the school year would be turned upside down. As we look forward to 2021-2022, however, we have one advantage: this time, we know things will be different.
Of course, we don’t know how different they’ll be, or what timeline we can expect, or how our communities will be transformed. One thing this pandemic has hammered home to me is that the patterns I plan for in schools are only expectations, barely predictions and certainly not promises. Without those patterns, though, it’s hard to figure out where to start.
At One Schoolhouse, we’ve made the decision to start by building for resilience--the ability to respond to challenges and find solutions. As we get ready to roll out our 2021-2022 offerings in January, we’ve chosen three places to focus.
Build for Flexibility - Our hope is that all students can return to their schools five full days a week next fall. Being back on campus, however, shouldn’t mean a return to business as usual. There are a host of lessons we’ve learned this year, and one of the most important is the value of flexibility. Schools will have courses that should be taught on campus whenever it’s possible--signature programs, core academics, discussion-based courses. At the same time, there are courses that it can be challenging to offer on campus--singleton sections, low-enrollment courses, and classes it’s hard to find space for. Offering these courses online may solve some of these problems.
Build for Equity - In 2020, schools renewed their commitment to becoming antiracist institutions and building equity for BIPOC students, staff, and faculty. One Schoolhouse has expanded its strand of identity-centered courses, with courses on Black Identity, Latino/a/x Identity, and Gender and Sexuality in the United States. Schools are also working to ensure that all their students have access to the full range of course offerings. We’ve added Algebra I to our 2021 summer courses to support schools who want to ensure a path to Calculus is available to every student.
Build for Engagement - After the isolation that so many of our students experienced this year, they’re hungry to engage with the real world in all its complexity. That’s why we’re continuing to expand our semester program with courses that encourage students to engage in the world and take action. Courses like Artificial Intelligence, Criminal Justice Reform, and Social Entrepreneurship allow students to grapple with pressing issues. Our second-semester seminars in design, research, and activism let students go deeper into topics and create real-world solutions.
In 2020, educators have needed to draw on resilience like never before. In 2021, we’re going to need our schools to be resilient as institutions and respond to the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic both uncovered and created. At One Schoolhouse, we’re here to help you do that.
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Brad Rathgeber (he/him/his)