Education has drastically changed in only 30 days?
This is not a question you can answer with a simple yes or no. Millions of students are working from home, doing schoolwork online instead of in their classrooms. You would think a lot has changed because of that. Most likely not. This article in the Washington Post argues that most students are getting many of the same lessons, and administrators are doing some of the same things in ways that may not make much sense in the current circumstances.
Katherine Schultz, author of, “Distrust and Educational Change,” has an interesting take on how not only teachers should change how they teach, administrators should change how they monitor their teachers. She describes how administrators in the US are conducting walk-throughs by joining teachers’ classrooms virtually. This is mostly done as a way of control, supported by additional student feedback.
The bottom line is that administrators are collecting these data not to support teachers, but because of contemporary American education’s unceasing focus on accountability. What if principals saw themselves as advocates for their teachers and students, whose job is to ensure that their needs are at the center of every decision, while still meeting the demands of local school committees and state departments of education?
I think she highlights an absolutely essential part of being an administrator today. Our job is to support our teachers, not monitor them. This drastic change in the world today requires a careful and supportive approach. We can not assume that all our teachers know how to do this, or that everyone is okay with staying at home, many are alone, or that all our students are able to carry on as usual. Most likely a lot of our teachers and students are worried and need help and support.
Here are some recommended steps
- Regular weekly meetings with teachers teaching the same subjects. Where are we, what needs to be done, how do we assess students’ work?
- Regular meetings with the school’s students’ support team. Do we know if all our students are participating, how do we help those who are struggling, can we meet students outside the school to go for a walk?
- Microsoft Teams and Zoom. In the first 2 weeks, we had regular daily meetings at the end of the day. Voluntary to meet, those attending were either experts who wanted to help or teachers who were struggling or had specific questions.
- Weekly meetings with the whole staff in Teams. More than 140 participants. Opportunity to ask questions and share concerns.
- Webinars, where teachers share best practices and administrators share what they have learned about online teaching and learning.
- Emphasizing the change in the role of the student. Teachers need to know that their students know what they are learning, why it is important to learn it, and what their goal is that day. The students need to own their learning. Now more than ever it is important o meet the students where they are and move them as far and as fast as they are able to. We are looking for agency in the students. They know what they want to pursue, not based on what they think is right but what they know they are able to accomplish.
- Questionnaire to all our students where we ask about, wellness, motivation, how they are coping with schoolwork
- Social meetings for students and teachers. Quiz, music, film, sharing good ideas!