New contexts for learning
The FCL toolkit has proved to be an engaging and efficient instrument to mainstream innovation in a school. It makes teachers, together with school stakeholders, reflect on their teaching practices and take step-by-step decisions. Teachers discuss and pilot learning scenarios and grow as a team to implement active learning. With these innovative pedagogies in mind, we took for granted that we would move away from the fixed classroom and let students explore new learning environments.
Covid 19 abruptly changed the scene. Teachers have to operate in a new environment. It is not possible anymore to bring the Future Classroom and school into practice in the way we promoted it before the pandemic. We all hope the direct impact of the virus will disappear soon, but most likely there will be effects on education that will remain.
Actually, there are three contexts that are teachers are operating in nowadays. All these three contexts are in fact new.
The Covid Classroom
After the first lockdown many countries have brought back students to school, but the school is not the old school anymore. Many restrictions apply to guarantee the safety of the students and teachers. In a way the Covid school brought back the traditional view on teaching with a fixed classroom set-up where students keep distance and where collaboration is not encouraged. It looks like the teacher has no choice but to be in the front and teach in a traditional way.
The emergency of the Covid pandemic forced teachers and schools to connect virtually with their students. Huge efforts have been made to set up the infrastructure needed for remote teaching. Teachers augmented their digital skills in a very short period, but more needs to be done. Online teaching brought back the traditional paradigm with the teacher lecturing for a passive audience.
The reality of the Covid crisis is one of uncertainty. Schools need to be flexible to organise learning at school or virtually. But it is even more complicated. The main basis might be in-school teaching, but some students would be at home, either because of forced quarantine or by decision to lower the number of students at school.
Teachers and schools, like all people in society, have coped as good as possible when the pandemic crisis started. The time of mere survival is over and in the new context we must strive again for quality. Teachers operate in three areas (Covid classroom, Hybrid and Remote teaching) that are, in most cases, new to them. For all these areas we see the following challenges for teachers, chools and stakeholders:
The crisis definitely made clear that educational technology has an important role to play. Implementing technology is a matter of funding, but also of policy and training. The challenge is also quite often also the inequality of students.
Social and emotional challenge
Schools are not only spaces to learn, but also to live. The new contexts put a pressure on well-being of students. It is a challenge for teachers in the changed circumstances to support young people in their growth to adolescence and to play a role as mentor.
Teachers are confronted with limitations and restrictions. But maybe also new opportunities arose? It is a challenge to bring the principles of active learning into practice and make learning an adventure of exploring and discovering. How can we convert the ideas of the learning zones to the new reality?
In this series of articles, you find some contributions of the Future Classroom Ambassadors who support the local teacher community in their country. They share ideas that will be inspiring for the European and global community of teachers in this new learning landscape.
- Students' well-being in the new normal, by Boglárka Tóth– FCL Ambassador Hungary)
- Social Reading: how to make students read a text more deeply and reach a more profound level of understanding? by Michele Gabbanelli – Co-lead FCL Ambassador Italy