The unprecedented health crisis caused by the spread of the novel coronavirus has resulted in innumerable complications and challenges with respect to schooling in the United States and globally. With the closure of schools, parents and guardians and often older siblings have had to oversee the learning of younger, school-aged children. One consequence of what might be called "emergency teaching" or "crisis schooling" has been a recognition, largely by those thrust into such roles of how hard this oversight actually is and a call for more respect and recognition for classroom teachers. Most frequently, this call for recognition and respect has actually been in the form of a recommendation for higher pay. While such an expression of support is laudable, it once again reveals a lack of deep understanding on the part of the general public about the substantial and specialized knowledge and skills teachers need and the scope of their work as effective classroom educators.
While we have learned much about the specialized knowledge and skills that teachers must have to be effective (e.g., Phelps, 2009; Shulman, 1986), given how teaching and learning are unfolding during this COVID-19 "era," there is much that we need to understand better about these processes (Richmond et al., 2020). At the time in which we are writing this editorial, two such examples include (a) the knowledge for online, face-to-face, or hybrid teaching and learning and (b) the cognitive, social, and emotional transitions for students (and for some, substantial trauma) to new learning platforms and different learning dynamics. There is also much to understand about the specific kinds of supports for students and for teachers that are necessary to maximize effective learning. Despite these needs, the novelty of the pandemic and the conditions students, educators, leaders, and scholars are living through call for a particular kind of pause. In this editorial, we (a) unpack this pause and the relationship to the production of academic scholarship, (b) direct scholars to the complexity of conditions unfolding during 2020-2021 academic years, and (c) encourage action-reflection as an integral part of the research process.
Pausing to "Look Beyond"
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, education fields have seen calls to rapidly apply the tools of scholarly inquiry to help solve pandemic-related problems. These calls coincide with a sense of urgency to have and act upon research-informed understanding of long-standing inequalities now revealed to the general public. This urgency is reflected in COVID-19 calls for proposals from the Spencer Foundation (2020), themed conferences, targeted research funding, and more. We expect this trend to grow as we move into the 2020-2021 academic year. However, these earnest efforts to put research to good use remain entangled with the capitalist and colonial impulses of rapid, extractive productivity. In academic institutions, these impulses arise from neoliberal, temporal fixtures such as tenure clocks, annual reviews, and program completion timelines (Shahjahan, 2015). Deadlines abound, and in addition, there are often fewer incentives in the academy with respect to scholarship that proceeds more slowly, more reflectively,...