Akimi Gibson: Back to School

For the fifth part of this series, we asked our experts to reflect upon the things we need to consider as we prepare to reopen schools this fall. “What human, organizational, and/or technological infrastructures do we need to put into place to support sustained periods of learning at home and/or more frequent handoffs between teachers and caregivers over the course of the school year? To what or whom do we need to pay closer attention as we plan for the reopening of schools? What might we be overlooking?”

An invitation to wonder

Akimi Gibson

Akimi Gibson is Vice President & Education Publisher for Sesame Workshop.

I have been listening closely to early childhood educators and leaders as they shared ever-evolving guidelines for opening their programs. The devotion to ensuring safety for their children, families, and school teams is balanced with new ideas informed by new discoveries during the pandemic crisis and by witnessing the continuing horrors of deadly acts of racism. We now ask, What have we observed, experienced, or wondered about during remote learning that we would keep if we could? How would we reimagine schooling based on all that we know now?

Here are a few beginning insights:

  • Whole-family approach: Families, as able, seem to like working as partners in their children’s learning. Families wanted to know the “why” behind the “what” they were doing. Imagine being able to tackle dual-generational learning at last.
  • Social emotional learning: The need to ensure emotional health and well-being formed the learning agenda. SEL took its rightful place as core to a whole-child curriculum approach.
  • Real-world applications, including attending to social justice: Educators were able to apply skills and concepts to each child’s life. This enriched cultural context was made possible given the special invitation to teach in children’s kitchens and living rooms. Imagine being able to use this context to teach tolerance and social justice?
  • Synchronous and asynchronous classrooms: Remote learning allowed for working with increased flexibility of time, space, and even teaching teams. Shy children were now boisterous, for example. Imagine if we afforded families to work with this level of flexibility; imagine how doing so can help each and every child flourish!

While all educators miss the physical closeness of their children, families, and one another, they are eager to explore newfound learnings and to define a new normal as their attentions quickly turn back to the practical. I wonder: How can we all support schools in this reimagining?


See more posts in this series:

Voices on the Future of Childhood

Akimi Gibson | Elisha Smith Arrillaga | Esther Wojcicki | Gregg Behr
Michelle Ciulla Lipkin | Molly McMahon | Robert Tom Kalinowski | Tom Liam Lynch