Post Lockdown!

June 2020

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 ...and just like that many of us are back in class, face-to-face! In New Zealand anyway... So, how do I find it? Do the kids have learner loss? Nope! As one who partnered with four contrasting teams of (9-60 year old old) students, coupled with years of playing with what's possible, daring to be bold, I'm a happy camper!

I'll confess to a having a pre-lockdown 'celebration' of sorts when 'Online Learning' was to become a focus. It was to the tune of 'Yes! Now we'll see some seriously robust education kick in!' Evidence evolved depicting:

  • Gutsier collaboration.

  • Meaningful global partnerships.

  • Conscious curiosity around online learning.

  • Deliberate redesigning of curriculums.

  • Purposeful Professional Development...

...and that's just a taste of how teachers took to the fun!

As for the students, I had the best fun, with the greatest outcomes that I've had in over 16 years...

Image by Kyle Glenn
Image by Sebastian Pichler

I'll acknowledge a vast variation in how I had to roll - but where the ducks lined up extraordinarily well, the doors 'now open' are like that dream come true. A team of 10 year old students, who barely knew how to manage anything more than an app on iPad pre-lockdown, came out as thee most stunning winners. 

I chose to open the 'floor' to the students, rather than design much for them at all. At best, I gave them a virtual blank canvass, to design their own programme. In order of hype that evolved, students

  • designed activities for each other!

  • met up in Zoom's breakout rooms to discuss much!

  • built projects - that'll take months to pull off!

  • created international partnerships

  • developed 'virtual lounges' and 'studios' to work in

  • built websites, worked smarter and learnt more!

What made this example possible - in the first instance, was the utter freedom to design the programming I chose. I wasn't locked into one-size-fits-all 'syndicate' mandates, boss led 'do's and don'ts' or 'rules'. 

little girl touches a virtual world with
Online remote learning. School kids with

Student voice is, I believe mismanaged in schools. By and large, 'it's a collection of their thinking and feedback on their learning to improve teaching, learning and school-wide decision making. A source of data within existing pedagogy, systems and procedures. It's to contribute to the next-steps for the students and guides decisions about content and approaches by teachers' (see source).

 

Bah-humbug it should be! In part - yes, but this puts teachers at the centre of the story - not the kids. It's the kids who need to be at the centre of their story. I choose not to have them inform me about content and my approach - but themselves. While arguably, my design is to let them take this lead - I don't take over, for then it defaults back to 'the teachers' court' again. This is their ball... Let them serve it and play. As ref only, I but facilitate, I'm not to be playing and controlling the deciding factors. 

Little tennis player on a blurred green
Inventive kids enjoying science lesson a

The trickiest angle was heading back to class with just iPads. Tough also - was ensuring we didn't 'go back to pre lockdown 'traditional' expectations re programming. Lastly, there was a whole team of kids who had little if any access to our Lockdown 'agile style' to consider. Some were held back by parental restraints, anti 'the style' - others, the lack of bandwidth - on various fronts. 

What has been absolutely gorgeous, is the incredible boost in student ownership, outlook and outward view of what learning can really entail. With whom, how and why - and even when and where has all had a new lease of life. That learning is more than 'school stuff' with the teacher, a pen and paper, has well moved on. 

Roll on the online clubs they'll facilitate. The interschool, international and even inter-community projects they'll launch...  The leadership roles they'll be change agents for and the robust discussions and learning design they'll engineer, that'll determine what is learnt and why. 

Thanks Lockdown - regeneration of education's afoot! At least - with the students I'm priviledged to work with. 

Part Two: 3 months on...

Planet earth and education concept. elem