The COVID Revolution

Recently, Art and I reflected about the effects of COVID-19 for our company and in our history.

As an educator in private practice, I have pivoted frequently not only to meet the needs of clients, but remain competitive in the near perfectly competitive educational support industry.  I, working with my partners have continuously sought to improve, in order to most efficiently serve clients, who are mainly parents and students.  Yet, in Spring 2020, like everyone, I wasn’t fully prepared to contend with the multitude of educational challenges as the COVID-related schism to our daily lives unfolded.

Administrators, often working in a vacuum given the ever-changing COVID-induced disruption, yet overwhelmed, quickly implemented solutions, and although well-intentioned, trying to protect the safety of their multi-faceted communities, in the process often created additional complications. Stunned teachers, students, parents, and administrators questioned themselves and their purposes, hungrier than usual for information in the wholesale disruption of the educational process, in trying to preserve the continuity of students’ education. 

Although typically in the spring, I am recouping from the busiest time of our year, the fall college application season, I was alerted to the COVID health crisis as it began in Wuhan, China. Through a multitude of conversations with staff, we deduced that COVID-19 would not be contained and would spread around the globe, impacting institutions and individuals in its wake. I immediately began to contemplate possible impacts to our clients and ourselves and how to mitigate them. 

By early March, as government officials began recommending lockdowns, I was concerned that students would not be able to take SAT’s and ACT’s to fulfill an 80 year old application requirement, possibly jeopardizing the college admissions strategy of many. I scrambled along with CMC’s partners to gain greater clarity about what increasingly would be a more subjective admissions process for Fall 2021, which would be further compounded by the upending of the academic grading system that may be equal to, or even more important for evaluating applicants. 

Administrators, throughout the spring, haphazardly implemented a variety of adaptations of the time-tested grading system, which many students perceived was an effective measure of not only their academic performance, but also their likelihood of being admitted to college. Towards the end of the spring, the most consistent, broad policy change among administrators was the Pass/No Pass form of evaluation system that only further added to students’ and parents’ stress especially given the difficulty of communicating with teachers and administrators, remotely

I spent much time this spring, via a variety of communication mediums, phone, text, email, video conferencing, listening to parents and students, who shared fears, justified or not, to how they would be fairly evaluated for a lifetime of work, which in the early spring months, was shaping to be a more subjective admissions evaluation process this fall, but hadn’t yet been defined by admissions officers, who were also facing their own perfect management storm

Throughout the spring until now, I have been working to keep up with the non-stop information flow in ways we’ve not had to do in the past in order to communicate with clients and provide guidance that may only be valuable for a very short period of time, given the evolving, fluid nature of the pandemic and the myriad of educational responses to what is, nearly impossible to define, at this point, disruption

Yet, currently there’s more questions than answers, especially as increasing numbers of COVID cases are reported around the U.S. I continue to collaborate with other educational stakeholders, parents, students, teachers, administrators, staff, legislators, and other educators in private practice, as well as listen to the stress of parents and students who are battling an anxiety that is associated with change, whose agent can’t be seen. The silver lining, if there is one for today, is for all of us involved, when we get through this crisis, and we will, we will all be better because our need for a shared humanity in times of struggle demands it

The Partners at Creative Marbles Consultancy combine educational theory with decades of experience to advise families, schools and educators, so they can continuously improve their work nurturing the next generation. Contact Creative Marbles Consultancy for more information.

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About Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

Jill Yoshikawa, EdM, Harvard ’99, a seasoned, 25 year educator and consultant, is meticulous in helping clients navigate all aspects of the educational experience, no matter the level of complexity. She combines educational theory with experience to advise families, schools and educators. A UCSD and Harvard graduate, as well as a former high school teacher, Jill works tirelessly to help her clients succeed.
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