12 November 2021 |3 minute read|
Has schooling changed forever post-Covid?
As the world enters the second year of schooling in a pandemic and soon into a post-Covid world, which aspects of schooling should be permanently altered? At the offset of the pandemic, academic professionals had to make quick and drastic changes. It’s now their responsibility to assess which education solutions have worked well, in order to carry them into the post-pandemic or post-Covid world. Once people see the powerful positive impact these approaches and solutions have, it’s very hard to turn back.
Educators are reconsidering traditional norms about schedules. The pandemic’s disruptions have also forced academic institutions to be more proactive about learning and communication between teacher and student.
Some districts are even considering a four-day school week for high school students so that they can spend one day a week off-campus, engaging in practical learning or ‘real-life’ learning. Now that educators know that learning is possible outside of four walls, they’re asking themselves, “how do we redesign the education system?” This question entails other sub-questions such as “how do we redesign school schedules?” Schools need to readjust teacher schedules: Why do all teachers have to work from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM every day? Having flexible school schedules, where some schools would operate part-time physically, would allow older students to meet their needs around their other potential responsibilities.
Educators state that Zoom has been an effective and low-cost platform to connect with families. Furthermore, moving meetings online has increased community participation and engagement. So, technology is instigating changes in how schools view the importance of communication with students and their families. With online tools, students can have access to online textbooks and instructional material. The online format has allowed students to be in direct and immediate contact with their parents once they’re done with their work, which allows teachers to immediately respond to parents’ questions and concerns which bolsters the school-home relationship. “I don’t see parents wanting to go backwards.” -Emily Anne Gullickson, CEO and founder of A for Arizona.
These institutions have also realized the importance of the emotional well-being of all members of an academic community: a gratifying development in education. After the tumultuous past couple of years we’ve faced, it’s imperative that educators attend to students’ overall well-being. Hence, teachers are constructing reflection corners into their in-person classrooms for the purpose of mental well-being. Online, they’re offering breathing and meditation apps or books with worksheets on reflection that help students process their feelings. Before Covid, some educators treated emotional and social learning as separate from academic learning. The pandemic has heightened educators’ awareness of social and emotional learning in that they are the root or center of all learning. Thus, now, educators are infusing social and emotional learning into virtual and in-person academic days, including time for journaling and mindfulness exercises that check-in on students’ mental health. Getting a glimpse into students’ home lives through online learning and ‘home schooling’ opened educators’ eyes to the effect of and relationship between mental well-being and academic performance.
Some students thrived with online classes during the pandemic. Educators can use some of the online tools they used during the pandemic. Furthermore, schools can have their exams online, while courses would be in-person, or vice versa: the courses would be online while the exams would be done on campus or on school grounds. In our blog on “Will Our Current Education System Equip Us for Jobs 50 Years from Now?” Alexandra says, “there would be a hybrid mode or solution, where part of the curriculum would be experienced online and part of it in-person (offline). This could be very challenging but at the same time, rewarding. Teachers need to understand what it is that they need to do offline and what they can do online.” To hear more of what Alexandra has to say about education after the pandemic, you can hear our podcast episode with her on Let’s Learn with Ostaz.
As schools suddenly went online, students got a level of independence, time management, and decision-making that traditional schooling and education system didn’t allow or foster for students to develop. Students have been hooked to this new approach to learning and wouldn’t want to revert to the traditional ways. Adolescents need to train themselves and experiment with independence and time management to ease them into the responsibilities of early adulthood. The flexibility to quickly adapt and adjust according to the restrictions the pandemic set allowed school leaders to retrospect about what is and isn’t working and serving students and how to pivot quickly. Including Student Interests and Passions in the Program How can students prosper outside the ‘traditional model’ and still have the best of the in-school experience? Compelled by the duty to be more flexible to individual student needs, some schools are thinking about learning design methods that incorporate student interests and passions. This would eliminate the one-size-fits-all ineffective approach and would liberate students as they feel unbounded by school offerings. Create programs and richer opportunities that take students outside school more regularly. Students need the ability to learn outside of school through practical applications like internships.
Another thing that schools will keep post-Covid is the precautionary measures against the Coronavirus:
- Having classes and assemblies outside
- Improving ventilation indoors
- Temporarily reintroducing bubble groups and face masks in public spaces in areas with higher Covid rates.
- Face Masks: Face masks will be either required or recommended in crowded spaces such as school buses.
- Covid Testing: Students will still be asked to be tested and take the PCR every once in a while.
- Social Distancing: The responsibility has been handed over to head educators to decide what measures should be taken. Depending on the layout and size of their school, some will decide to keep some of their crowd-control measures.
Expanded involvement between students and between students and their Parents is the 2021 concept that involvement comes in many shapes and forms. Teachers need to plan for student involvement and find new ways for students to connect with each other. Parents should also be involved in their children’s students’ learning journey. Educators should use this opportunity—even if it was born of natural chaos—to reimagine every school day and create an optimal educational experience.
The desire to ‘go back to normal’ has several implications. Some may mean going back to life without the threat of a dangerous and unpredictable virus and without having restrictions on where to go, while others may mean ‘how things were’. The number of challenges that education leaders will face is overwhelming; nonetheless, these educators will fight for promising solutions to stick post-Covid. None of these positive changes would have been possible before Covid. The way things have been going in education since the Coronavirus wasn’t just a snapshot in time; it’s the start of something new and a better way of doing things. Now that we know what we know, there’s no going back. Click here to know more about our blogs on the education system post-Covid.
BBC News. (2021, September 22). Back to school: How are pupils being kept Covid-safe? Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/education-51643556
Meyer, D. Schools Can’t Just ‘Go Back to Normal’. Retrieved from https://www.elmhurst.edu/blog/back-to-normal/Barmore, P. (2021, March 16).
Schooling has changed forever. Here’s what will stay when things go back to normal. Retrieved from https://hechingerreport.org/schooling-has-changed-forever-heres-what-will-stay-when-things-go-back-to-normal/