It’s been quite a year for all of us in the education community, especially teachers. Earlier this year, we predicted what we thought might be the hot topics for education in 2021 and we were pretty close to accurate with topics such as learning loss, educational equity, and remote learning. But who knew that districts would be grappling with other challenges such as a shortage of school bus drivers and a national debate about the level of involvement parents should have when determining a school district’s curriculum?
Educators from our teacher community, WeAreTeachers, recently predicted what they thought would be the biggest issues for the remainder of the school year, such as support for student and teacher mental health and reintroducing collaboration skills. Following their lead, here is what we think will be the hot topics for K-12 education in 2022. As you will see, our predictions for 2022 align pretty well with our friends at WeAreTeachers, and we think we can all agree on one of their predictions: “Planning for the Unexpected.”
- Supporting Social Emotional Learning: Call it “support for student mental health,” “social emotional learning” or any other name that may be out there, the social emotional health of students – and teachers – has been an important focus over the past year and will continue to be one in 2022. A July 2021 McGraw Hill survey, reported 53 percent of educators said COVID-19 and the shift to remote learning have caused their students emotional distress and created attendance problems. About 8 in 10 educators and parents believe SEL has become more important, the poll indicates; stand-alone SEL programs have doubled in the past three years. To support this important focus, hundreds of billions of federal ESSER funds that states and school districts have received can be used for programs and activities that support SEL.
- Mitigating Learning Loss: Studies from groups ranging from McKinsey & Company to education companies support the prediction that the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on learning gains. Some have said that the average loss per student is in terms of months; others have said that some student may have loss upwards to a year of progress with younger students seeing some of the biggest declines. The good news here is that the substantial amount of federal ESSER funds that have flowed into state and district budgets can be used to mitigate learning loss and the vast community of education companies offers the tools and resources to help educators get students back on track.
- Retaining Teachers and Other School Staff: Developing strategies for retaining teachers and other school staff is an increasing concern for today’s education leaders. When asked in March 2021 whether they would leave the profession, more than half of teachers said they were somewhat or very likely to do so, according to an EdWeek Research Center survey. A nationwide survey in September 2021 revealed that half of student-transportation coordinators described their school bus driver shortages as either “severe” or “desperate.” School leaders are also grappling with hiring and retaining other staff positions, ranging from cafeteria workers to crossing guards and janitors. Education companies have the opportunity to think about ways that they can support their customers’ retention strategies for the rest of this school year and into 2022-2023.
- Supporting Parental Involvement in Education: The disruption of school over the past year resulted in an increase in parent involvement in their children’s education. Through remote learning, parents often had a hands-on opportunity to see what their children were learning, how they were being assessed, and how they spent their school day. And now that they are more involved, they intend to stay involved. A July 2021 study by Tyton Partners said that nearly 80 percent of parents expect to be more active in shaping their child’s education in the future. The challenge now for school leaders and teachers is to provide parents with the accurate information that they want and need to be more involved in their children’s learning. As an education company, you can work directly with your customers to help them develop parent-reaching resources about your programs, products, and services.
As you create your 2022 marketing plans, MDR is here to help you develop strategies that will allow your customers to overcome the challenges of the new year and those likely “unexpected” ones as well. And remember, you can track state and district allocation of those important federal ESSER funds in MDR’s MarketView.