In our desire to support students in their learning, almost all schools started with online classes when C 19 pandemic hit us. Schools which just till yesterday did not even have the basic infrastructure or had teachers who had barely used technology apart from perhaps few videos or a power point presentation up-skilled fast to online teaching or distance learning.
While the efforts made by teachers is commendable, the process has not been easy for students, teachers, and parents alike. Not only are the teachers struggling but so are students, who are now suddenly exposed to a different style of learning. UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 4), ‘Ensuring inclusive and quality education for all and promoting life-long learning’, lays emphasis on equity. This situation of COVID 19 has in many ways just exposed the gap of equal access to good education.
As school leaders our focus should be on learning. Not just for the students but also the adults. For someone who is always interested in learning models, here is one model that I can relate to from the medical world.
The medical field is working relentlessly to find a cure for COVID 19 and perhaps they will have the medicine out in record time of say in an year and half according to The NewYoker and World Economic Forum, which otherwise would have taken anywhere between 3 to 5 years.
The Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC), lists the stages of development of a vaccine as under:
Regulatory review and approval
Schools did not get this luxury to try and test before implementing. Nevertheless, as we moved along, we redesigned, modified, or adapted our teaching strategies to reach every student in our class.
Teachers are learning how to teach once again. Somewhat like learning to fly a plan while flying.
In designing curriculum too, we need to follow a similar process of:
If schools want to strengthen their distance learning program, then this is the time to do so by finding the time for collaboration in horizontal and vertical collaborating teams with their peers to evaluate the work done so far, identify the essential curriculum for each subject in each grade, re-assess the learning outcomes and create proficiency scales that allow students to measure their progress and not just remain dependent on an alpha or numeric grade.
No problem equals no gain. When there is a challenge. Simply act.
It is time to look for new ideas for improving teaching and learning that could be hidden in the situation that we are all in.