As 2020 unfolded, many of us have watched and experienced growing concern and horror at the impact of CoVid19 to families across the world. According to UNESCO, “as of March 18, 849 million children and students have been forced out of schools and universities in a total of 113 countries. A large majority of those – 670 million – are between preschool age and 18 years old”.
Whilst many of us are still trying to catch our breath to this new world, we cannot help but stop, pause for a moment and look at certain professions with renewed respect and deep gratitude, such as health professionals of course, but also Educators.
Education is one of the major side effects of CoVid19. This is not a normal disruption to our industry, this will be a major tsunami of disruptions with many more side effects to come, as the world slowly returns to normal. These are our thoughts and thank you's for the blessings provided by Educators during CoVid19:
Educators – you have unprecedented respect from parents, carers and communities.
Critics have been silenced after practical – and often fraught - experience of home schooling. The teaching profession has regained respect as being professional, experienced, adaptable and so much more than child minders. You have built strong relationships with students through face-to-face classroom interactions and now – being so influential beyond the classroom door. And that relationship is now highly visible in the home, community and the media. That is so highly valued! You have shown the world that we can work through anything together!
You have shown the world what learning looks like in the 21st century.
Modeling you own capacity to learn new skills, change pedagogical practices and adapt quickly in times of changing contexts is a mark of your professionalism and passion for teaching and learning. Showing families how to connect, collaborate, interact and learn in a different environment has created a strong connection to a global education community. Your students have seen you as a learner in a challenging context! Your persistence and ability to problem-solve under pressure are wonderful life lessons for all. And parents have seen you as knowledgeable, intelligent and responsive
In this time of challenge, you have been given permission to focus specifically on the educational needs of your learners.
Without the distraction of behavior management, crowded curriculum and test scores, educators can differentiate their teaching and resources to meet specific needs. Focusing on literacy and numeracy skills in authentic contexts has given teachers some freedom to target instruction, learning activities, and pace in a more flexible way based on what individual learners know and need to know next. Fewer distractions and time-wasters increase engagement and time on task for learning through differentiated tasks and resources.
As a professional community of learners, you have shared access to quality content across the curriculum and across many schools in many countries.
Using video, animations, print and problem-based learning, these have improved the level of engagement for both learners and parents and makes the curriculum visible. Digital tools for demonstration and instruction have benefit not only for the students but parents as well. Your creativity has inspired many learners to make their learning visible in different formats and contexts. Being resourceful and creative in finding new ways to ensure learning continues. Innovating and experimenting with online tools will support and extend existing pedagogies so that students and families have access to the larger world, in addition to their own backyard.
Your high expectations for learning are now visible to parents and the community through online learning.
Your expectations of learning intentions and task completion are clearly articulated and understood. Your guidance to families is appreciated as they can see exactly what you are referring to, avoiding any confusion or misunderstanding. By using digital content, platforms, documents, images and charts you can easily map your ideas and communicate with your students, wherever they are located physically. Your personal relationship with individual learners has an exciting new dimension through virtual learning and social interactions which are crucial for learning.
To the Teachers of our Global community – our heroic, hard-working educators, who, amidst the panic, confusion and political conflict – have quietly continued to carry out one of the most, important jobs in society – the continued education of our children, we say Thank You!