As international schools across the globe find themselves back in class after the winter break, I know there are many of you thinking that we are still in the depths of this pandemic and it’s going to be part of school life for most of 2021, if not all. When the pandemic is finally over, there will be COVID-19-related practices many international school leaders would happily like to see disappear and never return, like the face masks and social distancing.
After speaking with many school leaders during the first half of the 2020/2021 academic year, there are some new or refined activities and developments that should have staying power because they have the prospect to improve student outcomes and school operations for the long term, some leaders forecast.
Parents and Schools more connected
International schools quickly discovered they needed to provide parents very clear guidelines in order that they could support their children’s learning at home. For many parents it was a big wake up call, just how much of their child’s primary maths curriculum they did not understand! Many heads I spoke to say that they felt the school was more connected with their parent community due to the constant back-and-forth communication and that there was an increased appreciation for each other’s challenges and successes. Heads said it’s one of the more positive trends they hope continues years after the pandemic has ended.
Technology and Internet access to grow
Good internet access and speed has become a basic necessity these days, like water and electricity. While many of us are feeling some online fatigue, effective remote instruction is here to stay. There is now a wealth of online resources and online courses available to the remotest schools in the world. Teachers have access to online professional learning, camera tech, online courses and content like never before. Students are learning skills now, Heads say in online publishing, video creation, coding, collaboration and data analytics that will be needed for them to succeed and flourish in future work environments
New approaches to instruction
International school leaders also say that their teachers are having to be much more flexible and creative with their time. Last semester provided the perfect scenario to break away from old practices and try new ways of teaching. Some educators I believe have clearly thrived during all this disruption and have been keen to find ways to innovate and maintain a positive culture around online learning. I have read so many positive stories of interactive online academic activities that have helped students continue and thrive with their learning at home.
At IES we will continue to engage with schools on K–12 online and blended learning practices over the remaining school year and next. We hope and expect that through the remaining course of the pandemic, as difficult as it is currently for some, necessity will prove to be the mother of invention. Over time I know our conscientious teachers will continue to improve and invent new ways and strategies that allow them to better serve their students. As time unfolds I will be eagerly watching to see if the pragmatic solutions educators adopt also veer toward more student-centred learning.