The 2019-20 school year is coming to an end, but not in the traditional way with classroom celebrations, graduations, honors nights and saying goodbye to students. Instead, we are finishing our school year virtually. What have we learned from these past several months that we can now apply to the future?


We all know there is no better way to deliver instruction than face-to-face, but we have learned that having a digital opportunity helps enhances the teaching platform. What we have found out is that most students are ready for 21st century learning and have the skills to be successful. Therefore, it’s critical that all students develop these skills to be successful in our local, state and global society.


What are these skills you might ask? In a world where we are so digitally connected the following are the necessary skills for success in schools, work and life. After viewing the remote-learning educational videos and the interaction between teachers and students, I believe the students with the following qualities were very successful with our remote learning.


Critical thinking is the way you make reasonable judgments that are logical and well thought out. Some of the distance-learning activities often provided opportunities for students to gather, analyze and understand information as well as make decisions and problem solve without the teacher being readily available. The critical thinkers often are the more self-directed students and go beyond the mastery of the skill being presented.


Creativity is when you take a task and think about it in a different way. It’s the ability to use your imagination to create new ideas. Virtual learning provides the students with the ability to solve problems or find interesting ways to address specific tasks away from the traditional read and apply.


Collaboration skills are the behaviors that help groups of people work together, allowing them to be successful as a team. Research shows that students that learn to work together outperform students that work in traditional independent/isolated environments. Teachers created caring and respectful cooperative learning activities in which all students interacted and worked together to get powerful results.


Communication is the ability to explain your ideas to others in a way that is easily understood. Teachers, through Zoom classroom discussion, were able to determine whether students understood the lessons and activities that were being presented to them.


Technology literacy is the ability to use technology in an appropriate way to gather and communicate information. We have found out that most of our students have some type of technology available. Having the knowledge to utilize technology as part of instructional learning is vital in today’s world. These skills are preparing our students for their futures beyond high school.


Flexibility is the thinking skill that allows students to adapt to new situations, improvise and think of new ways to meet different types of challenges. We have found that students are on technology for most of their day either playing a video game, watching YouTube or just reading information. Students are more focused when utilizing technology versus utilizing the textbook, and they have the ability to multitask.


Over the past several months, we have learned that we have the ability to adapt and provide a quality learning opportunity for students in difficult circumstances, and our students have the skills necessary to be successful. As we plan for the next school year, we look forward to providing the best education we can, no matter the format or circumstances.


Steve Guerra is superintendent of Addison Community Schools.