Slow the COVID-19 Slide
June 1, 2020

Let’s slow the COVID-19 slide—the learning loss our students may experience during this time of turmoil. As educators, we’ve worked hard in our schools and from our homes to provide high-quality remote instruction for our students while they adjusted to school-from-home. Yet we know that despite our amazing efforts, there are factors outside our Circle of Influence that may have prevented students from getting the most out of learning up to this point. 

We’re familiar with other “slides,” like summer learning loss or the disruption to learning that happens because of other tragedies—Hurricane Katrina being an example. Based on our experience with these, we can predict—and address—the learning loss resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Let’s jump into Habit 2: Begin With the End in Mind to create a solid vision and plan to help us step into a swift, enthusiastic recovery. And let’s harness the power of Leader in Me to help us address learning loss as it relates to the whole person, not solely academic achievement. 


Consider these ideas to address the COVID-19 slide in the areas of leadership, culture, and academics:


Rebuild leadership skills by focusing on social-emotional learning. A lack of in-person peer and community interaction, coupled with “stay-at-home fatigue,” might mean students’ social-emotional skills have gotten rusty.

Engage students in relevant service-learning projects that help them rebuild social-emotional learning through practical application of the 7 Habits. We could, for example, discuss our freedom to proactively choose our response to our circumstances (Habit 1) and Synergize with community partners to come up with creative solutions (Habit 6). Whether back in the classroom or still learning from home, students can work together to develop projects to support local businesses, rebuild food pantry stocks, build relationships with the elderly, clean up their neighborhood, and so much more!

Utilize these Leader in Me resources to get started: 


Rebuild trust and culture by focusing on the emotional environment. Excessive screen time, lack of peer interaction, and time away from school structure are just a few factors that may have caused our classroom and school culture to take a step back. 

Teach students about the Emotional Bank Account. Develop class and school systems (onsite or online) to make regular deposits into the account of every member of the school community—students, staff, and families. One great way to extend trust and make regular deposits is by increasing student voice through leadership roles. 

Utilize these Leader in Me resources to get started: 


Help students set goals to get back on track with the 4 Disciplines of Execution—a goal-achieving system that gets us sustainable results, over and over again. Our students may have some “wildly important gaps” to address, and that’s what Wildly Important Goals, or WIGs, are designed to help us tackle.

Make the goal-setting experience inspiring and fun for students! Create and use compelling physical or digital scoreboards to track effort in completing lead measures. Create a Cadence of Accountability with peer partners—this, too, can be done in person or digitally depending on current circumstances. Finally, authentically celebrate student accomplishments at every level!  

Utilize these Leader in Me resources to get started: 

Learn More:

Want to learn more about the COVID-19 slide? Read NWEA’s forecasts in their collaborative brief, The COVID-19 slide: What summer learning loss can teach us about the potential impact of school closures on student academic achievement, by Dr. Megan Kuhfeld & Dr. Beth Tarasawa.

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