Throughout the pandemic, I have often heard people talk about getting back to “normal.” I wonder if that is what we really want or need in education.
Change has always come slowly to public education. There is a comfort in the familiar when it relates to school structures, grading, schedules, and even testing. I guess that is why we still find ourselves holding on to models that were designed for the industrial era. And while we frequently talk about twenty-first century skills and students, after two decades of living in the twenty-first century, what has really substantively changed in K-12 education?
Well, the pandemic thrust a change upon us. Virtual learning demanded new tools and new pedagogy. It forced a change. We saw a similar change in organizational processes for meetings and professional learning. We were forced to do things in a different way, and I am not sure that anyone wants to lose everything associated with these changes.
This crisis illuminated the importance of agility to survive … not just in a crisis, but in the twenty-first century! As we have adapted over the last year, what are the things we did that we like and we do not want to give up? What new ideas have been sparked by our circumstances that we believe will enable us to do our jobs better going forward?
We can use this crisis as a springboard for conversations that will enable us to transform education. Are there better ways to group students to address learning loss and academic needs? How do we continue to support our students with social emotional skills? What truly proved to be the essential skills during virtual learning versus an over-emphasis on pure content? What flexibility can we offer to students and staff for “just in time” learning using a virtual format? How can we begin to truly personalize learning for our 21st century students? What structures will enable us to function as a truly twenty-first century organization?
If getting back to normal means a complete return to the status quo, then I definitely do not want to return to normal. Let’s find the courage to change!