‘All progress happens in uncertain times.’-
Ozan Varol, Law Professor, Author, Rocket ScientistMarch
2020 saw over a billion students across the world not in school. Teachers across the globe took up the mantle to ensure that their students coped up with the crisis. Shedding their inhibitions and anxiety, the teachers strived to reach out to the students and ensure that learning continued while in-school learning stayed suspended. Teachers’ personal relationships with the students and their families positioned them uniquely to guide them in these times of anxiety. The situation compelled teachers to unlearn and relearn the approaches they had mastered, down the years effectively.
The S H I F T seemed easy at first but then REALITY sprung up a few clear messages:
Basic Needs First:
Children’s basic needs like food, health, and emotional well-being are more important than trying to get them back to school.
George Werner, Liberia’s Minister of Education during the 2014-15 Ebola crisis, said,
“You have to think as a leader, what happens when the shadow of COVID-19 begins to fade. We need to take school health more seriously than ever before, and it needs to be part of our strategic planning.”
The Teachers got to the drawing boards to re-organize strategies. It was observed that the teachers had to prepare to meet the psychosocial needs of the children in these difficult circumstances. Rather than rushing to focus on academics (syllabus completion) on the various online platforms, the teachers had to introduce online interactive options to address the educational, psychological and the social needs of the children and their families too.The sessions blended with some learning, fun, art, music & interactive games were found positively affecting student well-being.Students adapted differently to learn in different environment resulting in differential learning outcomes.
Value Based Education:
Teachers played a critical role in building confidence and ensuring support to students’ learning. As Dr. Sara Ruto, the Chairperson of the Kenyan Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) and Chairperson of the Kenyan Ministry of Education’s COVID Response, “[The crisis] is giving energy to some of the pillars of the curriculum that had not found voice before; parental engagement, empowerment, and values-based education. Children need to see, touch, and grow with values-based education. No better place than a home where this happens. Teachers use this opportunity to engage parents to ensure such learning takes place.” Teachers have helped reducing anxiety and building confidence to return to school and support children’s learning.
Technology Enabled Learning:
Teachers in many countries serve in uncomfortable situations with little or no prior experience. Many teachers have been innovative in their approach to students’ needs, especially where devices or connectivity is not available.
Dr. Iwan Syahril, the recently appointed Director General for Teachers and Education Personnel in the Ministry of Education and Culture in Indonesia, said, “We are becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable. We’ve been talking about student-centered learning for ages. [COVID] is giving us the trust that this is okay. You don’t just teach your curriculum, but you look at your students and start there. This is an opportunity to reimagine the curriculum and ensure that each student is learning”
Orienting schools and teachers to improve students’ outcomes at their level is imperative. The COVID crisis realigned the roles of teachers to focus on doing what is best for their students.
Teachers across the world have risen up to the situation and adapted very well to online teaching ensuring students’ accessibility to learning. Parental and societal support will take learning to a different and a more desirable level.
LET LEARNING CONTINUE.
Mr. Joy Pullambra
St. Joseph’s School
Ref. :https://blogs.worldbank.org/education/school-leadership-uncertain-times(www.sjskhanusa.org) and has been facilitating digital teaching & learning since 2010