Maslow Before Blooms

I came across the following image in my Twitter feed this past week, and I’m so glad of the reminder. My undergrad degree was in Psychology which has influenced how I approach instructional design and practices–whether its working with children or adults. So, I think the COVID-19 hierarchy of needs for schools is something that all educators need to seriously consider in the coming days, weeks, and months of this crisis.

I have spoken with several colleagues who I admire and respect about our next steps. As in, how do we proceed knowing that in-person classes are cancelled for the rest of the year?

For the past three weeks (ever since our district closed in-person classes), many of us were scrambling on the how and what of teaching. How were we going to provide learning opportunities for our students and what were we going to focus those learning opportunities on?

Some of my colleagues continued with their instruction, mainly modifying the delivery but not so much the pace or content. Others created an independent learning project that still connected to the curriculum, but the pace was drastically reduced. And then there were those who did a bit of both. My point is…everyone was doing something different. But is that a bad thing?

Not necessarily.

At the time, we were thinking this would be short in duration. But now that we are looking at 10+ weeks of remote learning…our responses need to change.

In this time of crisis learning (this is the moniker I’ve adopted), I think we need to give everyone a huge dose of grace. And by everyone, I mean district personnel, teachers, students, and parents. Everyone is doing the best they can at this moment. Many of us have not had to pivot so sharply in such a short amount of time…ever.

For those who are a lamenting about the lack of time to teach the curriculum or for those who fear our students are going to fall behind, please read the following excerpt from a teacher whose planning fell to the wayside after Hurricane Katrina…

It kinda puts things into perspective, no?

This brings me back to the reason why I titled this post Maslow before Blooms. This phrase has appeared too many times to count in my Twitter feed for many years. It also appeared in discussions among my colleagues in our doctoral courses. But let’s think for a moment…if a student’s sole concern is their welfare, safety, and well-being…why would they care if a teacher assigns a reading and activity? If a student (a child) is concerned about their parent who’s in the medical field…why would they even think of checking the LMS every day to see what a teacher posted? If a student is witness to a parent suddenly losing their job and now they don’t know how they will afford rent or food…why would they be concerned about when the math test is?

I think as educators we need to shift our focus to how can we support our students–our children–during this time? I’m not suggesting that we throw out rigorous learning or the curriculum, mind you. I’m just proposing that we begin first with addressing the human aspect of learning. We need to provide support structures for our students (Borkoski & Roos, 2020). We need to figure out ways to foster self-awareness and self-management skills for our most vulnerable stakeholder: our children.

If you are looking for a place to start, may I suggest visiting the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL, 2020) website. Since we’re all scrambling for ways to support crisis learning why not take the opportunity to develop and deliver activities that support the mental and emotional well-being our students? I don’t think that’s a bad path to take…do you?

Maslow before Blooms.


Borkoski, C., & Roos, B. (2020, April 3). Cultivating belonging online during COVID-19: Helping students maintain social distancing without feeling socially isolated. Retrieved from

CASEL. (2020). Core SEL competencies. Retrieved from

McLeod, S. (2020, March 20). Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Retrieve from

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