Classic change management theory tells us the number one step to creating change in any organization is to create a sense of urgency.
Social Distancing, closures and isolation due to Covid-19 has created an unprecedented sense of urgency for many organizations to find ways to protect people from a life-threatening virus while also carrying on business as usual... as usual as it can be.
We are living in a fascinating time. The innovations and changes that result from the Covid-19 crisis could fundamentally shift the way we work, learn, play and live. These shifts are unfolding all around us; we are active participants and also simply doing what is necessary to survive. It's fascinating. It's scary. It's change.
If you really want me to nerd-out, then let's talk about schools. I have no idea what the future holds for the world, but I can't help but take notice of a few situations that I believe will contribute to this fundamental shift in the way we see education.
Home-schooling in the hands of parents. This is just so interesting. I have friends who work full time and are gaining a whole new appreciation for teachers and day-care workers... only after a few days. I'm a teacher, so the prospect of educating my kids at home doesn't scare me. The pedagogical stuff, I got. What terrifies me is having no breaks, no boundaries between home/work, no colleagues over the age of 5. A few of my friends homeschool normally and the best piece of advice I received was: if all else fails, put them in the bath. Seriously, my kids have never been so clean. How will this perspective-taking impact our understanding and appreciation of those who work with kids?
Many parents feel pressure to "keep up" with formal learning. Social media is buzzing with sample daily schedules for kids at home, printable math worksheets, virtual museum tours, free educational videos... while the sharing of these resources is really inspiring, it points to a bigger issue. Parents feel a big pressure to make sure kids are learning. Is this coming from schools? Wanting to make sure kids are not falling behind? A desire to keep kids entertained without resorting to Netflix? I'm totally guilty of this, by the way. I am also finding ways to sneak in formal learning into our day. Why is that? And what would happen if we let go of that pressure?
Teachers are superheroes. For a lot of reasons, but especially lately. Given most schools had less than a few days before closing, teachers have scrambled to prepare packets, move teaching online, record lessons and essentially change everything they do for a very unspecific and unknown amount of time. Even teachers I know who regularly use online learning platforms have been under extreme pressure. I wonder how many teachers will transform their practice and use more online teaching methods when we return to normal school? Could teachers be replaced by online programs?
Schools are more than places of learning. By taking away the possibility of students attending school, we are seeing school for what it really is: an essential place and component to our society. For some students, it's the only place they receive a meal. It's the only place they're safe. It's where they are cared for and where they have healthy social interactions. There are many kids who will have a rich and meaningful experience being home during the Covid-19 crisis, but we need to realize that is a privilege that does not belong to all. For every kid who is home cooking with their parent, there is one who is responsible for young siblings and cannot "keep up" with the packets sent home from their teacher. For 8 hours each day, school strives to provide an equitable situation for ALL kids... which is something that will be glaringly evident as the experiences of students at home take shape over the upcoming months. Is it possible for kids to experience all of the non-learning aspects of school at home in some way? How can society help with this when we're in isolation?
Learning is everywhere. For the parents who are lucky enough to take time off work and spend quality time with their kids, it's easy to see how learning is naturally embedded in most things we do. Kids who are choosing what they do each day, directing their own play, are inviting us into experiencing learning with them. It's meaningful and authentic. It's deep learning. I play "school" with my kids each morning to get them ready for the day and to ensure about 15 minutes of formal learning during this time at home. My son hates it. He doesn't want to sit, or listen to a story or talk about the day. He does want to play monster trucks in sand, help me in the garden and march around the living room like a soldier. There's learning in that. I wonder what happens when parents can see that learning is more than forcing kids to do a math worksheet? Could this be a tipping point where we see more parents as advocates of authentic project learning?
Connection is really (really) important. We have always known strong relationships between teachers and students are paramount for learning, but in the face of Covid-19 and the removal of schools as places, we are challenged to re-imagine what connection looks like and how it can be maintained in a virtual setting. We are also seeing many benefits of families spending time together. Busy and hectic schedules replaced by, well, nothing. How will this connection transform our time when it is safe to go back to school and work?
Covid-19 has created an unprecedented urgency for our society to change, adapt and innovate. Education will not be untouched by this situation. None of us will be untouched as we move forward in these uncertain times.
The work-side of me is excited to see what is to come. 🤓
The mom-side of me is just hoping that everyone is safe and healthy. ❤️