In just a few months, COVID-19 has radically altered the way we view the traditional educational setting. Right now it is difficult to imagine how the beginning of the 20-21 school year will look. Districts are scrambling to find ways to finish out spring activities, and their eyes are already turned toward ways to adapt for social distancing in the fall. As we navigate hand washing stations, future potential closures, curriculum gaps, and strict cleaning regimens, we return again and again to our highest concern: student learning.
Schools are embarking on a road not taken, but that does not mean that student learning has to bump around in the trunk of the car. Rather, it must drive the vehicle forward. Social distance learning is a way for us to examine what 21st Century Skills are all about and to deliver education in innovative and exciting new ways.
Educators are accustomed to finding inventive solutions to meet new challenges. What we are facing now is no different. Teachers are often thinking about how to keep students engaged in the classroom. Now they must think about how to keep students engaged in a variety of educational mediums and redefine what the word “classroom” really means.
Finding solutions to our new normal may mean turning the classroom into a field trip – inviting students to explore the world between four walls. Instead of inviting guest speakers, we may video chat with scientists and take virtual tours of art galleries and farms. The classroom may need to be more adaptable: to accommodate different students on different days, to provide students with proper distance while maintaining a system of communication and collaboration, and to offer students places to sanitize. It may also entail providing students with a place to access the Internet when they may not have it available at home. While we may not recognize these new classrooms, we can recognize the learning that will take place there.
Educators have long emphasized the importance of using technology to enhance traditional teaching, not replace it. Now we must think of technology in a different way. It must be a delivery system for quality education and invite students to participate in the future of learning and thinking. Creating virtual schedules in which students can meet with teachers through a variety of platforms allows students the opportunity to ask questions and actively participate in the material. Teachers can forge relationships with students digitally through videos, pictures, surveys, and forums. By embracing technology, we are tuning into the future of education.
Promote Independent Learning
Because these new challenges may require students to learn more at home, educators must be ready to provide students and parents with necessary resources. Face-to-face time may be used to teach students how to participate in independent learning. Students can practice 21st Century Skills by asking questions, researching, and testing hypotheses. Teachers can offer students the necessary know-how to recognize quality information, to identify bias, and to break down logical fallacies. Once students are practiced at independent critical thinking and problem-solving, they will be that much closer to becoming lifelong learners.
This is an opportunity, not a problem. Think of it as a fast forward to the future of learning, and we must rise to the occasion. If we do, our youth will too. Just as students meet high expectations, just as they match the positive attitude of their teachers, students will recognize this new normal as a time of development and growth when their teachers treat it as such. Many resources are available as we maneuver this changing landscape.
The CDC lists a number of answers to common questions, and we are here to help in any way we can.
Our goal at Benee’s Inc., is to be a resource to our clients during this time of change. As always, we remain committed to providing you with customized furniture solutions, even as we are constantly adapting to the new requirements of COVID-19 preparedness. If you have an idea, Benee’s is here to help fulfill that idea – if you dream it, we can build it.