We are at a crossroads in education when it comes to teaching and learning. We may continue to tweak the traditional path or re-engineer and put students in the driver seat with teachers and everyone else in supporting roles.
We acknowledge the world of challenges like having only one device per family, planning for students with special needs, helicopter parents, parents saying no to send their students to school post-lockdown, etc. Take a moment here to applaud yourself for the efforts you’ve put in for the past few months! Now, take another moment to understand that teacher planning will be complex with 50% class work and the other half being asynchronous learning (or what the school decides).
But we will operate with the beautiful growth mindset and reflect on strategies that you used and that worked well. There would be things that did not go well or students who did not learn, and how can we change those.
You have the Design Board at your disposal—think about personalising learning for students and how they may assist you in planning for their own journey. Read more on these different approaches to blend your lesson plans as per need and concept being taught: problem-based learning, project-based learning, Common Ground Collaborative, concept-based curriculum, and many more.
Before we go ahead to make our weekly and quarterly teaching plans, we need to know where our learners stand and what they know before we take them forward to next steps in learning. Using baseline data to analyse student performance is a good start! Your pre-planning schedule should also include thinking time for ways of feedback and assessment, especially to be in constant touch. A voice-note on WhatsApp or use of tools to evidence learning like Flipgrid, Padlet are good examples. Educators can also use these tools to conduct formative assessments as part of group projects and asynchronous learning.
Here are some more practices on designing assessments and feedback.
Power of parent partnerships
In the volatile environment that we are embracing and struggling with, it is imperative to build a supportive ecosystem with our parents and the community. Surrounded by walls and gadgets for months, our minds and hearts crave the human and social connect. This is all the more important for our young learners!
As Stephen Covey says “synergy catalyzes, unifies, and unleashes the greatest power within people.” The idea is to transform the old passive roles of parents and actively involve them in school governance decisions and working together to raise achievement levels for their children. School leaders and the Task Force can look at the Global Family Research Project for ideas on policy design and thereby, the social responsibility of parents and community at large. Teachers can conduct virtual PTMs with parents and learners together to inform them of the next two-week plans Or have a meaningful one-off session meant to inspire and connect (like a joint meet-up to discuss cool ib learner profile posters and ideate on who else could make the list! Another way of including parents in their child’s learning journey is to train them on using platforms relevant to their kids, such as a common events portal like Zoom or an ed-tech software like Toddle for Ib pyp, ib myp etc
Of student agency and safe spaces
The way everything is changing, social distancing and online games instead of garden walks and time with friends, how will our kids survive? How will the teachers demonstrate connection and security without being able to hug their students?
It’s a good start that the lockdown compelled us to think about these questions and the mental health narrative. A good starting point for educators would be to think about what steps they took to ensure students and parents are fine during forced isolation. Also, not to forget how they take care of themselves!
Developing habits of reflection
As a part of recalibrating new teaching habits and shedding off some old ones, we, as adults, need to stop policing our students. There are innumerous researches that prove how and why students taking responsibility for their learning and doing it at their own pace is significantly impactful. What we rather should help our students with is building skills and competencies that will help them cope with the current times! Some include motivation, time management, dealing with failure, resilience, and where to look out for support.
When educators are making their lesson plans, plan for reflection! Use the Butterfly Effect approach to practice student agency and freedom of speech during the lesson. What went well? What could be better? Check for Understanding? These types of questions can be asked at the end of the online lesson using tools like Google Form, Flipgrid, Padlet, etc.
A concept-based inquiry model with active questioning embedded in the lesson plan for students goes a long way! Another very useful habit is to self-evaluate yourself as a teacher, and what an opportunity we have from our Zoom recordings!
As we discuss and try the above practices for building effective classrooms of the future, we do acknowledge the time constraints you face in your personal and professional lives. But, we promise: two lesson plans with reflection questions and your students will get in the habit of giving you constructive feedback!