How Parents Can Help Stem a COVID-19 Learning Slide

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and suddenly caused school closures across the country, educators were left to determine—often with uncertain resources and supports—how to effectively teach students outside of the classroom.  ACT, Inc. and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) announced last week that they were joining forces to help teachers navigate the rapidly changing world of distance learning.

We kicked off that new partnership with a SEL webinar helping parents and educators stem a COVID-19 learning slide. Our founder, Mawi Asgedom, joined forces with AFT Share My Lesson and AFT member, Jim Arey (District 214 Education Association) to introduce practical SEL tools and lessons to help keep kids motivated to grow and learn while outside of the traditional classroom.

When we speak with parents and educators, they always ask how to foster student confidence and motivation. Growth (mastering a skill, learning new things) is key to building confidence in our kids, which keeps students engaged in their learning. And our greatest hope for your students is that they see abundant growth opportunities to continue to build their confidence during these challenging times. The theory of mindset, or how we develop our abilities, really falls into two approaches – Fixed Mindset and Growth Mindset.

Fixed Mindset, you believe you are like a rock. You cannot grow your skills and intelligence.  Growth mindset, you believe you’re like a plant. Your skills and intelligence can grow with effort.

There are many ways to encourage our students to build their Growth Mindset. During this webinar, Mawi discussed several easy-to-use tools and strategies to help students grow no matter where their instruction is taking place.


The CAN DO™/NOT YET™ circles are one of our most powerful tools for encouraging learning. We’ve taught it to kindergarten classes, groups of superintendents, and in the business world, too. The CAN DO™ circle contains everything a student can already do. The NOT YET™ circle lists the things students cannot do yet. The key difference is between can’t do YET versus can’t do EVER.  When students set goals in that NOT YET™ circle, they are pushing to improve, and expanding their CAN DO™ circle. Success is when you grow. Failure is doing nothing to grow.


MAD Goals™ = Measurable Attainable and Deadline-Driven Goals

Creating MAD goals gives students concrete plans to help them grow. For example, instead of saying, “I want good grades” change that to “This semester, I will earn 3 As and 3 Bs.” Instead of saying “I want to be a good basketball player,” create a goal to score 6 points a game. Creating specific, small, attainable goals helps show growth towards larger goals and keeps kids motivated.


Having routines and creating a schedule is vital to keeping us all on a growth path. Create a schedule for your family and have the kids help. Schedule specific times each day for things like reading, math, technical skills and goals for those set time. Make it work for your family and involve students in choosing the schedule that they think works best for them. Always build in time for fun, relaxation, hobbies, and other recharging activities for both you and your students. Helping them find their voice is critical in keeping them motivated to grow.


Those things that your child really loves to do, the things that energize them, we refer to as “sunlight” activities. All plants need sunlight to grow, and it’s no different for our students (or ourselves for that matter). Growth doesn’t just happen because we practice something over and over, we must holistically appeal to a student’s interest to keep motivation up. Try to make sure that they get “sunlight” every day.

Students respond positively to these lessons because it shows them a strength-based vision of themselves. We believe all students are leaders and can be successful learners. And it’s not limited to just academic growth. These tools can help students work through anxiety, navigate social relationships, and even help them improve in sports or other extra-curricular activities.

ACT SEL (Mawi Learning and Tessera) has provided teaching and learning lessons to the AFT’s Share My Lesson platform. The webinar recording also lives here and can be accessed at any time to view. The lessons can be used in-home or in-classroom by parents and educators to ensure their students keep learning and growing for future success!