February 2021: 20 Weeks of Student Progress, Observations & Insights

February 2021: 20 Weeks of Student Progress, Observations & Insights

20 weeks have passed for our students who started the MEK Learning Circles (MLC) program in September, bringing an end to MLC’s first 20-week course since its inception. During the past 5 months, students and teachers alike have been faced with countless uncertainties due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But MEK is dedicated to providing the same quality of education in every situation.

As Director of the MLC program, I had the pleasure of overseeing the 206 students who started their program in September and had their 20th sessions last week. They were a part of MLC’s educational journey as we grew together.

In this blog post, you will be able to see our students’ progress in numbers. But I also want to share my observations and insights on our students throughout the course of the 20 week program.

Observations & Insights: 20 Weeks of Progress

Our biggest concerns for students before starting this course were:

  1. Managing their time independently
  2. Asking questions beyond the class time
  3. Using unfamiliar technology (i.e. Kami)

 

However, we were most worried that the culmination of these concerns would throw students into periods of slump, which would be most difficult to recover from.

I was (pleasantly) surprised that by Week 5, 10, 15, and 20, students were making tremendous progress, and these concerns were no longer concerns.

Time Management

It’s no secret that, when left to their own devices, students often lose track of time, get distracted, and build poor study habits. In the virtual setting, this time management issue is an especially significant concern. When classes were on-site and in-person, teachers and staff were able to monitor students directly and easily. But is difficult to have direct control of what students do behind their screens during class time, and impossible to control what they do after the class time.

During the first weeks of September, it was clear that while most students were completing their work in a timely manner, many were completing it 10 minutes before class.

Time management is a habit that comes from clear mindset building. Instead of scolding students for poor performance, we focused on encouragement and getting them to understand. 

Why do I need to do homework?
Why do I need to manage my time?
What good will come out of my hard work?

But most importantly, we spent our greatest efforts on getting students to enjoy the class time. We formed relationships with our students to show them that their success is our joy.

By Week 10, it was clear that our efforts had paid off. Students were submitting homework way before the deadline. Plus, their performance showed that they were spending enough time on homework and studying to do well on all assessments.

When students have an idea of the big picture and the implications of how they spend their time, they come to understand how they need to manage their time. I am so proud to say that by Week 10 and 20, we were able to bring students to that understanding.

Actively Asking Questions

One key moment in which students lose interest in their learning is when they think that their teacher is out of reach. This key moment is also a key reason why remote learning is throwing many students into slump.

Utilizing Google Classroom and office hours, we did whatever we could to ensure that students could reach their teachers as often as possible. During the first two weeks of the program, our teachers’ office hour Zoom meetings were empty and Google Classroom forums inactive. But as students continued to develop relationships with their teachers, they started showing up in these voluntary office hour sessions and asking questions on Google Classroom.

Soon, teachers were no longer busy gathering student interest, but actually much busier than before as they worked to address student questions as quickly as possible and prepared for effective office hour sessions.

Adapting to Technology

In the world of remote learning, technology is something that students cannot avoid. With Zoom and Google Classroom, many student are already overwhelmed with the different programs that they need to know how to use in order to have an effective classroom experience.

When we added Kami, an annotation tool, to the mix, many students and parents were at a loss as to how they could handle so many different platforms. Throughout the week, we would receive countless phone calls from parents who just needed an explanation as to how they could make sense of it all.

But with our teachers’ and administrators’ expert guidance, students are now using Kami, Zoom, and Google Classroom without any issues. Classes go on without a hitch, and I would like to thank all of our students for adapting so quickly to the technology.

Closing Words

The MLC team is beginning preparations for Summer 2021 courses, and the past 20 weeks since September have given us the tools to make our next courses even better and even more effective.

Our greatest finding from the past 20 weeks is that as soon as students are interested in their own progress and self-motivated, nothing can stop them from reaching for success. Twenty weeks may seem like a long time, but it’s not a very long time when it comes to breaking bad habits and making new ones.

We are opening new classes for the Summer semester, and will be opening a CCSS Student Evaluation Test Event for students: the first step to joining our MLC courses.

Contact us to stay up-to-date on our course openings and promotions! That way, you will be the first to know when we roll out our Summer promotions.

I hope to see you soon!

Binal Patel

Binal is the Director of the MEK Learning Circles. Her many years of experience with students of all levels and extensive knowledge of Common Core State Standards makes her a powerful MLC leader. Her firm but patient manner yields high results among her students and helps her to reinforce the integrity of our MLC program among other teachers.

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