During the past few weeks, we have seen a massive focus shift toward online learning.
An eye-opener for us hasn’t been the wealth of online learning tools that have been made available, but rather how they have been utilised.
Once again, we have seen that while we make the tools, it is the community of users that define their purpose.
We’ve seen educators, service providers and parents share home learning apps, sites, tips and the New Zealand Ministry of Education were quick to respond with a website to support teachers and parents navigate this ever-changing education paradigm with their children - https://learningfromhome.govt.nz/
We have seen School Leaders freely share their action plans via social media to support others. Karen Spencer has curated valuable information in her blog post - Remote Learning in Stranger Times - https://karenmelhuishspencer.com/2020/03/21/remote-learning-in-strange-times/
Teachers have reached out on social media to offer their support:
Kia ora friends,
New Zealand enters a period of distance learning/remote learning/homeschooling from tomorrow. If you or your child has been assigned something that you don’t quite understand, or if you need some extra resources, I’m more than happy to don my teaching hat and help out. If I don’t know the answer myself, someone in my amazing teacher network will! This is going to be a challenging period for many, but together, we’ve got this 💙
Stay safe, stay home. Kia Kaha.
(Teacher friends: feel free to copy and paste.)
As a parent, I feel like our kids are in good hands, and I am not concerned about their learning. True, many of us are in a privileged position. It is of considerable concern for those less fortunate so, it is heartening to see companies such as Chorus, Enable and Ultra Fast Fibre announce support for students without broadband. It means subject matter and course content will continue to be accessed. We saw this community connective behaviour evidenced in Christchurch during the Canterbury quakes. The area I am closely monitoring is their well-being, connectedness, relationships and social interaction.
The relationships our children have with staff at school extends beyond their teacher or teachers. The principal (particularly in a primary school) is a hero and the person that kids respect, admire and look up to. The librarian provides reading recommendations and also a safe haven and leadership opportunities to boost confidence. Teaching assistants are more than a “reader-writer”, providing a sense of stability. In schools, with a "special character", the Chaplin is a rock for all students. These relationships provide security and even more so through challenging times.
This is why I am so excited about LINC-ED Hero’s new Student Feed. Sure, it supports home or online learning, but when Student Feed was released, we didn’t see immediate messages with Maths tasks, it was notes of support from principals, teachers and support staff. The “bubble” extended beyond teacher and class.
Student Feed enables ALL of those special people in our students’ lives to connect with them easily as well as the content or subject matter to be targeted appropriately. After all, a principal’s message for her Year 8 students will likely be different from that for her Year 3 students.
The learning content came too, and schools have done an incredible job of walking the tightrope that Karen Spencer refers to in her post, as she applies her learning from Fullan:
“...if planning is too loose, people drift with inertia; too tight, and creativity and freedom are stifled. We do not expect to replicate school at home (nor should we). But nor are we taking our feet completely off the gas overnight to put it all on already stressed families (Karen Spencer).”
I can’t wait to see how our schools continue to harness LINC-ED Hero to foster a sense of belonging and community for our children. Whether it be through virtual assemblies, dance challenges, a joke of the day, video messages or by finishing the week with a whole school “dab”…and I’m genuinely excited to learn more about how the community is utilising our tool kit. If LINC-ED can be a universal adhesive for our users, then that sense of safety and togetherness will create an ideal environment for learning to flourish.