Schools have authored a ‘new normal’ way of learning
School life pre-COVID-19 may have been considered to be somewhat predicable. Students attended their school campus within a specific timeframe, teachers taught in classrooms with engaging pedagogies, and routines were considered to be consistent. In any case, school staff always worked genuinely hard to ensure positive outcomes for their students.
The emergence of COVID-19 has essentially forced school communities to rethink their respective learning ecosystem and academic care generally. School leaders and teachers have been challenged to think about their contemporary definition of “normal” and basically author a “new normal” of learning and school life.
Among the maze of information about the pandemic, school communities have had to navigate a wrath of evolving education and health policies whilst striving to ensure quality learning and teaching.
In recent times, students have returned back to their respective campuses. This has been welcomed by teachers and support staff. The wonderful daily interactions that are shared between school staff and students has sorely been missed.
Indeed, this is one of the reasons why I believe that schools are essentially a human relationships organisation. In a school, the quality of human relationships is paramount for student growth to occur.
Challenges faced post COVID-19
The challenge for school leaders and teachers will be to learn and grow from the experience of COVID-19. What new pedagogies, systems and routines can they learn from the experience in order to create a “new normal”? Simply returning to school life as it was before lockdown would be an injustice to our learners and families.
In the new normal of learning, there has been an odyssey of exciting, fun and transformative pedagogies, alongside school practices which should become part of our educational bandwidth. The increased and varied use of applications such as Zoom, Screencaster, YouTube and so much more has enriched learning experiences. Students commencing school later, finishing earlier, increasing use of blended learning, and being on campus sometimes, rather than all the time, has provided added ingredients to our new normal.
There is no question that COVID-19 has provided many challenges to school communities. However, the pandemic has also presented a series of opportunities to educators to break the shackles off any industrialised approaches to schooling and implement heightened creativity and innovation in a myriad of areas within schools.