Janet Wilson, the former Chief of Teaching, Learning, and Schools for Montgomery County, MD, and current SVP of District Solutions at Littera Education outlines three key problems facing schools as they plan for the summer and provides a detailed solution to each in her Summer Success Strategies series. This is the second of three installments. Read the first posting, "Using Summer to Target Key Transition Grades."
Expand the Capacity to Serve More Students (without Overtaxing Your Staff)
Challenge: Staffing is difficult.
Often, a district’s ability to scale a program is dependent on their staffing–I hear from many administrators that summer is increasingly difficult to support with existing resources. In this instance, a strategic, flexible approach is required.
Teachers, paraprofessionals, and administrative staff are exhausted from the roller coaster ride they have been on for three years. On top of that, more students need academic support from a caring, attentive adult.
Opportunity: Think differently about summer school staffing.
- Use existing staff as virtual instructors: Have you considered giving teachers and paraprofessionals the ability to teach summer school virtually? This can expand course offerings and reach more students (the Littera Tutoring Management System is designed to support this).
- Leverage virtual tutors: If summer school demand exceeds available staffing, consider using high-quality, highly-trained remote tutors from outside the district who are screened through a rigorous process (including background checks). Littera tutors have the appropriate content background, and availability for the duration of the summer program.
- Offer on-site and virtual summer support: For students who may not qualify for on-site summer school, but who need support to perform on grade level due to lost learning time, virtual summer programs are an ideal solution. In this scenario, you’re able to support students both on site and virtually, thereby making optimal use of summer learning time.
Challenge: On-site summer school may not work with vulnerable students’ schedules.
For families of elementary-age children whose work schedules do not change just because the school year has ended, coverage for partial summer school days creates a logistical and financial burden. They don’t have the extra funds to buy enrichment opportunities or tutoring to fill a full day, nor are childcare facilities equipped to provide half-day coverage or the transportation necessary for participation in summer school.
Many older students have work responsibilities during the break that do not afford them access to a rigid schedule. They are helping to support the financial needs of their families during those months. The confinement of a brick-and-mortar in-person program in a learning environment away from home does not equitably meet the needs of all students.
Often these circumstances affect the most vulnerable students who really need the acceleration from a summer boost.
“The confinement of a brick-and-mortar in-person program in a learning environment away from home does not equitably meet the needs of all students.”
Opportunity: Provide summer school at times that work for your students and their families.
Districts can provide equitable access to support by building a program with flexible course and time offerings. Families may need courses and support offered at non-traditional times, such as early morning or late afternoon, early evening, or perhaps even on a weekend.
Offering remote high-impact tutoring programs at times convenient for families, staffed with tutors who need and want the same time structures, accomplishes this.
One additional advantage to the flexible course and program schedule is that more district staff may be available to support a non-traditional, virtual approach to meeting summer needs.
Littera is offering both structured and flexible summer programs to support math and reading acceleration this summer. Learn more.