2020 was the year that technology in the classroom came into its own. Whilst interactive whiteboards and digital learning had been a mainstay of education for a long time, remote teaching and flexible learning patterns became an essential part of teaching as schools and teachers navigated the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns.
The impact of the pandemic
School closures and socially distanced classrooms, homeschooling and access to education - it all proved tricky to navigate, throwing new challenges in the way of already overstretched teachers and stressed students, not to mention parents who were often working and unable to home tutor.
And there were concerns at the start of the pandemic that time away from the classroom would cause learning loss, setting students, particularly those of an exam age, back months and even years. The time away from school equates to approximately half a year, having educational, mental health, and economic effects - with one estimate stating that there could be a 30-40% loss in lifetime learnings.
Transformations in the classroom - and beyond
But it’s not all negative. This has been a chance for transformation in the classroom and beyond.
Schools that have excelled have looked to implement seamless transition for learning, with education taking place both in and out of the classroom and devices connected for always on activity. Hybrid models of learning that blend online and offline have sought to address this potential learning gap, minimising time away from quality teaching.
Great teachers have used this opportunity to deliver more personalised learning. Through digital platforms they are able to tailor support and education more effectively than when teaching in a large classroom. They have been able to get targeted and focused, really delivering exactly what is needed for each student.
Good learning has always been interactive. Great teachers know they need to have a relationship and rapport with all students, from the liveliest to the quietest, to know how their teaching is landing and ensure understanding. What the hybrid and blended model has offered is more opportunity for check-ins in a way that works for individual students. Some require one to one conversations, whereas others respond best to written feedback. This variety of options ensures that education works for each and every one.
And we’ve seen collaboration across schools for subjects that might have a smaller cohort of students taking them up. If a young person wants to learn say Portuguese, multiple schools can connect online to teach them, pooling resources for greater impact.
Finding teachers up for the challenge
Not all teachers are ready and willing to embrace hybrid learning. Schools know that they need to employ visionary teachers who have the energy and enthusiasm to incorporate models of learning that build on what works, and find new opportunities for educational and student development.
Public and private schools have long relied on exams to assess progress. In the future there will be more focus on long term educational attainment by monitoring coursework and classwork, so teachers who are ready to work with their students over the year will be essential. Our collaborative forums and overseas trips allow teachers to develop and enhance their practice, so that they can learn new and creative ways of providing quality education.
For some teachers, workload has increased. They have had to learn new technologies, include different ways of working, and redesign their teaching. The best teachers have worked with their networks and communities, sharing resources and knowledge to set them and their students up for success. Schools that want to retain this approach need to think about how best to aid the teachers with supervision, peer support, and resources. At Impact Teachers we build a community of teachers and educators who are committed to doing the best for all the students they deal with.
The future of education
Lockdown has proved that there is no one size fits all for education. Every young person not only has the option of but deserves to get the individual package of education that will allow them to thrive. Online and hybrid learning works best when the students’ needs are put at the forefront. This isn’t about replacing in person teaching time with a screen - it’s about using the tools and resources available to deliver quality education in whatever situation is available.
Blended learning is now here to stay. Teachers and students have had to get creative and find new ways of studying that engage and entertain, at the same time as delivering excellent education that impacts students now and for the future.
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