6 things Covid-19 taught me about teaching
Covid-19 has had a huge impact on us as educators. We had to rapidly adapt to a new teaching style and move to online distance teaching. As we return to the physical classroom, we must not forget all of the lessons that we have learnt from lockdown. Here are my top 6, although there are many more.
- Technology cannot replace teachers. As many wonderful educational apps there are, online learning is not the same as learning in the classroom. Collaboration was just not the same (yes I know there are 'apps for that'), but the conversations had over video chat are nothing on those we could have face to face. It was far harder to respond to my students needs in the moment and everything took so much longer than it would in the classroom.
- Self-regulation is vital. This experience really illustrated how important 'managing self' is as a key competency. The students who were able to set goals and routines for themselves were far more successful at learning from a distance. However, this skillset is also beneficial in the classroom and the 'real world'. To support our learners to continue to develop this skill, we have introduced genius hour into our timetable. This is a block a week where students conduct their own inquiry into a topic of their choice.
- Feedback really is powerful (thanks Hattie). As I couldn't give feedback in the same way I would in the classroom, I had to give written feedback on my students blogs/ completed activities instead. This supported my students to see their next steps and it encouraged them to keep learning. I think this additional point of contact was really important given the circumstances we were in (lockdown) and it was important to keep motivating my learners.
- Respond to the needs of your learners. During lockdown I set a task each day and provided feedback to each of my learners as they completed it. If I saw that they were struggling or all found the task to easy, I would quickly change or adapt the task for the following day to better suit their needs. I think I could be far better at responding to my students and adapting content in this way post lockdown.
- Learning experiences trump learning activities. I know that it is impossible for every lesson to contain some adventure or crazy hands on activity, but so much learning comes out from them. As I tried to find activities that my students could participate in at home, I started to dream of all the experiences I could facilitate in the classroom as well. I know that my students remember the experiences far clearer than they remember the slides or activities that accompanied them, so I'm trying to think of more ways to include these in my practice.
- It's easier to make regular contact with whanau than you think. At the start of the lockdown we had to make contact with every family. It was a little challenging (trying to get the correct number for everyone) and a little time consuming to start with (32 phone conversations). However, from then on it was super easy to communicate over text or email. It makes me realise how easy it would be to send an introductory text at the beginning of the year, or an email when a child does something well. This wouldn't take long at all, but would be strengthening the home partnership which we know supports our learners to succeed at school.