And recent conversations about setting school priorities for the coming school year reflect these dire concerns and troubling statistics. They have largely centered on academic or achievement metrics–course grades, graduation rates, and achievement test scores–and strategies to improve them. Schools and districts across the nation are working to increase instructional time spent on course subjects, provide students tutoring and other support to fill in learning gaps, and are deploying new curriculum solutions to reinforce fundamentals.
Students, educators, and families are keenly aware of the deficits and holes in learning left in the wake of the pandemic. However, in order to turn the tide towards student success and progress, students, educators, and families must believe there is the possibility of a bright future and that they have what it takes to get there.
They must have hope–in themselves, in those around them, in their communities.
Hope is the fuel that powers students, teachers, and parents through day-to-day challenges. It is the bridge to the dream students and families are working diligently towards. It is the transcendent force that sustains the momentum of a school community in the face of setbacks. In short, it is the shared attitude and understanding that nourishes effort and goal-setting and ultimately, success.
The research on hope shows what many educators know implicitly through experience and practice–that when students, families, and educators feel hopeful about the future, when they think positively, they are more likely to be successful. The good news for practitioners is that research has also shown that thinking positively and being hopeful is a skill that is able to be learned over time and measured and tracked in tangible ways.
Students and families need to hear messages that convey, We believe in you. We believe you are capable of great things! to offset the messages of learning loss and the need for students to catch up academically.
Given the tremendous challenges of the past several years, we have collectively lost some of the hope that is naturally embedded in K-12 schools. We are at an inflection point. We must be intentional about re-infusing hope in our students, conveying to families that they are invaluable partners in nurturing their children’s positive growth and development, and reminding fellow educators that they are doing noble work to change the lives of countless students. With a shared and concerted effort to activate hope, this generational collective disruption in learning can be transformed into an exemplar of resilience and perseverance that will inspire our nation’s students for years to come.
To support this, SchooLinks has created a Hope-Focused Toolkit for school counselors and other educators to explore how hope is a fundamental component of building a college and career readiness culture, learn best practices for inspiring hope within the school community, and access actionable checklists for implementing these meaningful efforts each day.