How will the current distance learning experience change schools? by Cayt Mirra
Every teacher in Australia has learnt a lot this term. Whether it’s about new online learning platforms, managing discussions online, creating engaging online learning resources, becoming more comfortable filming ourselves, or finding better ways to manage our admin, we have all made a lot of mistakes and found new ways of operating.
Some great things have come out of this time. Teachers have made connections with students who may not usually speak up in a busy classroom. Students who are usually disengaged are suddenly working hard. Students are teaching their teachers how to do things online, and teachers are finding more efficient ways to share information. We are filming professional learning sessions so that teachers can watch them at a time that suits them, instead of straight after school when they’re exhausted from a day of teaching. Why don’t we do this normally?
The answer is, schools have always treated teachers kind of like how they treat students – with rules that are ‘consistent’ and the use of strict learning intentions and outcomes and bells. Rules, essentially. Schools are often not flexible spaces. Until they had to be. What if, when all this goes back to normal, we don’t get rid of the flexibility? What if we continue to let students work from home sometimes, if it suits them better? What if we let teachers conduct meetings and participate in professional learning online, at a time that suits them? What if we trusted teachers to be professionals and to manage their own time? What if we kept all the course content videos we have made and gave them to our students next year, and then used the class time to actually work with students one on one?
There has been a lot of focus in the media about the ways in which students will ‘fall behind’ this term. But the kids are learning a lot too. They’re learning how to work independently. They’re learning how to ask for help. They’re learning to problem solve and to prioritise tasks and to self-motivate. What if we continue to let them do this?
And what if we reconsider some of the other parts of education that we do because we have always done them? Teachers have proven that we can completely redesign education in a few weeks if we all work together. We have proven the capacity to create massive change. What else might we apply this to? The possibilities are endless.