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The Power of Partnership, Innovation and Learning

School Desk Blog: Focus on the rebound

There’s no shortage of rhetoric out there about the learning our children lost during the pandemic. We’ve all heard negative statements about how far behind the kids are, or distance learning was terrible. The media created a thing called “the COVID learning slide.” And have you heard the horrible “learning loss” term? We don’t need to buy into the negativity. To say the pandemic has had no effect on education would be disingenuous, but we don’t need to dwell on what already happened. Let’s focus on our rebound! We can learn from the past, but let’s not let that distract us from the goal. 

Some students and families had a more challenging experience with distance learning, while others flourished. I prefer to think of what happened during the pandemic for some students as unfinished learning or unrealized potential. There was not a vast learning loss. Learning didn’t regress during the pandemic. Learning didn’t go backward. Yes, some review will be needed, but let’s not look at it as a loss. Let’s look at it like it's just where we’re at right now. Students all around the planet are in the same predicament. What matters is what we do right now. At schools worldwide and throughout our district, teachers and staff are focused on accelerating learning for students.

Another concept that is related to unfinished learning is unexpected learning. An example of unexpected learning is our sudden switch to distance learning provided the opportunity to develop powerful digital skills at an accelerated level. Research is underway to quantify just how much, but some experts claim that younger children could be years ahead of where they would have been if not for the technological aspect of distance learning. If we examine our own experiences during the pandemic with a positive lens, I’m sure we can find examples of terrific unexpected learning. If you have an example of unexpected learning during the pandemic, please email me at and tell me about it.

Over the summer and throughout this year, teachers and leaders at Ukiah Unified are working on our rebound with national educational leader Douglas B. Fisher, Ph.D. In addition to being one of the country’s most sought-after educational consultants, he is the Department of Educational Leadership Chair at San Diego State University and the co-founder of San Diego Health Sciences High and Middle College.  He recently co-authored Rebound and Leading the Rebound, two books that are the foundation of his work with us.

We’re learning many lessons during COVID-19 in education and every aspect of life. Now it’s our task to take these lessons and help our children accelerate their learning. We can do this. We can take advantage of this moment and move forward with optimism. Let’s focus on our rebound.