For all of us this is a time of anxiety and uncertainty. There seem to be few silver linings to what can seem like an immovable storm cloud. But one meaningful thing we can do at this time is to think ahead, to start to shape a better future for the world after lockdown.
In education, there will be (at least) two groups of people. For some, a return to school will be the chance to forget what they see as this horrendous, messy, unsatisfactory experiment in distance learning. For others, something more productive is starting to happen. People are asking – what meaning can I make from this situation? How can we learn from the crisis so that when we return things don’t just go back to ‘normal’, whatever that looked like, but are improved.
Three questions may help shape this thinking. At our school we have often used keep, lose, introduce, as a way of giving precise, concise feedback. For example, after assemblies – ours are usually the length of a lesson and interactive – the person giving the assembly asks for the other teachers to gather round for just two or three minutes, in what we call ‘the huddle’ to give their view on what she should keep from the assembly, what should be lost, and what was missing or should be introduced. I, and others, have found this immensely helpful.
In that spirit these three questions, ones I know many in the NHS are also asking, would seem to provide a good frame for reflection and learning.
What things have you started doing that you want to keep?
This works at a whole number of levels. It could be exploring how school leaders work with their teams. Many report back that meetings are often shorter, more frequent and more productive. It could be classroom teachers rethinking how they plan lessons so that there is more genuine collaboration, or independent work.
What are the things you want to get rid of on our return to school?
There are many angles to this question too. Some might be cultural. There seems to be more trust of professionals when working remotely. Some are finding this liberating. They feel that when school goes back they want to lose the micro management. Some teachers have already said they want to scrap their current homework policy as they can now see new ways to motivate students to do independent work.
What do you miss most from the way things were before the crisis?
This seems to me a crucial question because it gets us all to reappraise what we value most about school. For parents it might be the childcare! Relieved that they don’t have to continue to dabble in homeschooling. For most who work in schools and love the sense of community, it might be different aspects of the human interaction.
This new website is your chance to share your insights and attempt in your own way to answer one or more of these questions so all of us learn as much as possible from this weird experience and feel at the end of it that things can be better on our return.