When searching information and ideas regarding reopening schools, key words, such as "uncertainty", "ambiguity", "complexity", keep showing up in the literature. This makes me think of the term "VUCA". VUCA is an acronym used to describe volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. Put simply, we live in a fast-changing world and in such unfamiliar environment, we face unpredictable changes, that often require us to make decisions in complex systems, and to take uncertain actions that are outside of our expertise. This reflects the current situation we are in now so accurately. We do our best to anticipate the possible scenarios for reopening schools, but no binary decisions can be made easily. My head of school shared this article "What will schools do when a teacher gets Covid-19?" with the senior management team and invited us to share our thoughts. There are always concerns about whether schools are opening too fast or too soon. It is agreed that frequent shutting down and re-opening is not a sustainable approach and also causes disruptions to learning. To ease anxiety and keep everyone calm, we will need to make information transparent and keep the school community members informed of what will happen if there is a Covide-19 case in accordance with the local government's guidelines.
While preparing for the details and logistics to reopen the school, in Education Reimagined: The Future of Learning document, schools are reminded that
"There may be a tendency to overlook the learning agenda and become preoccupied with health and safety. We do this at our peril. It is essential to consider ways to improve learning early in the Transition Phase." (Fullan and Quinn, 2020)
Transitioning to hybrid teaching
- Education Reimagined: The Future of Learning (Michael Fullan, Joanne Quinn, 2020)
- Transcend: Recovery to Reinvention: The playbook of guidance and tools is incredible detailed and I also appreciate their library of school design examples and resources.
- Remote learning resources on Pinterest compiled by Eric Sheninger (@E_Sheninger) are so useful for planning learning at different stages.
- Imagining September: Online Design Charrettes for Fall 2020 Planning with Students and Stakeholders (Justin Reich, Jal Mehta, 2020)
- Imagining September: Principles and Design Elements for Ambitious Schools During COVID-19 (Justin Reich, Jal Mehta, 2020) )
I tried to synthesized what I have read and share the information with teachers. With transitioning to hybrid teaching, the top priority is to do it safely. If we are not vigilant, there is always a risk of having COVID-19 infected cases on campus. Secondly, when returning to campus, we need to be mindful of well-being and be kind to each other. Many adults and children have experienced anxiety, stress, anger, frustration and many more emotions caused by the pandemic disruption. I value the points being mentioned by Michael Fullan and Joanne Quinn in the Education Reimagined document (page 11):
"We know that change affects everyone differently. Consider these realities when reopening schools:
- Each of us has been affected in unknown ways. This self-awareness will come at different times for different people and will manifest itself differently for each of us.
- Assume people are not their best selves right now. Temper your expectations with empathy and patience.
- We won’t know what people need, until we ask them. Even then, they may not understand what they need. Know that one size does not fit all.
- The situation will continue to be dynamic and so are the people we serve; their wellbeing is not in a fixed state."
In the hybrid teaching and learning model, teachers need to continue to be adaptive before the vaccine is developed. There is always a possibility that we will return to remote teaching and learning. Lastly, in my opinion, teachers also need to be become imaginative, collaborate with others, prototype, deploy, and reflect in order to figure out the approach that meet the needs of their students in their own context. Context matters and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Without imagination and responding to the world as it is now exists, students will only learn by compliance instead of developing self-regulation and learning how to learn.
Hybrid Teaching: Be Safe, Be kind, Be Adaptive, Be Imaginative
- Step 1: Develop core and extended teams and create norms to reopen school
- Step 2: Review school vision, mission and core values
- Step 3: Examine available data (e.g. student assessment data; survey results of parents, students and teachers; student attendance/task engagement records and so on) for decision making and then identify constraints on what we can achieve and what is currently outside of our capabilities and control
- Step 4: Align actions with strategic guiding statements (or principles)
The diagram is a reminder that we are in a VUCA world and we need to be patient and continue to develop our capabilities to solve problems that we still don't have answers to yet. Students are always in the center of what we do at the school and in this crucial time, it highlights the importance of developing learner agility. I then include our school's core values around the learner-centered approach: nurture passion in self and others; take action ethically; strive for understanding; create a caring and inclusive community.
Finally, the outside ring is the iterative design thinking process to experiment with what works for our students, teachers, and the school community members: empathize, synthesize & adapt; deploy; reflect.
This poster is to provide some ideas on what we can change to move from deliverers of instruction to adaptive learning facilitators focusing on high-agency strategies; shifting from an unresponsive approach to a transformed approach. Some possible actions are also brainstormed to help the planning process.