As we discuss whether or not schools will reopen any time soon, educators have to set themselves up for the task. Find tips on the where, how and what to plan for remote learning and future classrooms!
When the country announced its first lockdown on 24 March’20, questions about remote learning, virtual classrooms and EdTech flooded the social media platforms and dining-table conversations. 84 days later today, after upskilling our teaching and learning habits, we are back to planning for the future classrooms.
The virus, with its serious repercussions on health (physical & mental), economy and jobs, has also brought about systemic challenges for schools and stakeholders in the education landscape. On the brighter side, however, it is giving us an opportunity to make learning about our students! What are the different aspects of post-Covid plan of schools and remote learning that we must address?
Reimagining pedagogy and plan for remote learning
We are at a crossroads in education when it comes to teaching and learning. Let’s tweak the traditional path or re-engineer and put students in the driver seat with everyone else in supporting roles.
Despite challenges like having only one device per family, planning for students with special needs, parents saying no to send their students to school, etc, take a moment here to applaud yourself for the efforts you’ve put for the past few months! Now, take another moment to understand that plans for remote learning will be complex with both, class work and asynchronous learning.
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 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. 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.
Infrastructural shifts with remote learning
Schools are one of the key places facing disruption, and in India, it also disrupts essential services like nutrition, vaccination, and learning outcomes. The HRD ministry has called for schools to take a decision regarding reopening of schools and prepare safety guidelines.
The first step in this direction is to set up a School Task Force with school principal, administrative heads, teachers, parents and students. Their role is crucial for interpreting government regulations regularly, planning for its implementation and foreseeing emergency decisions.
Once the Task Force is set up, the next step is to revisit school infrastructure and adapt it to the post-Covid safety protocols. Some of the mandatory changes include social distancing desks and tables in classrooms, thermal scanners, sterilisation of the school campus, and designing cue markers and posters for students everywhere.
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 are craving 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 governance and learning outcomes decisions. 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. In their planning for remote learning, teachers can conduct virtual PTMs with parents and learners together to inform them of the next two-week plans. Another way of including parents in their child’s learning journey is to train them on using Zoom, Kahoot, SeeSaw and other such tools and platforms.
For more specific ideas on increased parent involvement, please check out our blog post here.
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 steps they took to ensure students and parents are fine during forced isolation. Also, not to forget how did they take care of themselves! While schools may or may not reopen immediately, how do we create safe spaces for students and parents virtually as well!
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. Innumerous researches 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.
As educators curate plans for remote learning, 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 you all have been making plans for remote learning, we know 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!
This webinar series was a part of our PLANNING domain under effective classroom teaching. To know more, here are the Highr’s Big Four of Quality Teaching.
Watch the full webinar here: