Yesterday I had the pleasure of contributing to the WISE (World Innovation Summit for Education) – Salzburg Global ‘Education Disrupted, Education Reimagined’ virtual convening. With about 250 people on the Zoom call, and more than 2000 registered attendees from around the world, this was a rich, robust and international event.
The first day’s sessions can be found on this YouTube video. The panel in which I was involved—’The role of education leaders in times of crisis’, with Greg Moncada, Xueqin Jiang and moderator Simon Breakspear—begins at 1 hour 36 minutes and runs for about 45 minutes, but the whole two days is worth a listen.
It’s much more interesting to listen to the conversation via the YouTube link, but the points I discussed during the panel are captured briefly below.
The disruption of COVID-19 and physical school closures are prompting us to ask ourselves the following questions.
- What is the purpose of schooling?
- What is the role of teachers?
- How could or should we measure learning and educational success?
These questions prompt us to consider how we might do things differently during this time, and how we might reimagine schooling beyond our current pandemic reality.
My advice to school leaders at this time is to:
- Consider Maslow before Bloom. That is, put safety, health and wellbeing before formal education, curriculum, pedagogy and especially assessment. Be compassionate and kind. Start with humanity. Understand that those in your community are likely to have complex circumstances of which you may be unaware. For more see the independent report Thinking About Pedagogy in an Unfolding Pandemic.
- Put community, connectedness, intimacy and relationships at the forefront of decisions and practices.
- Respond to your own context. Look to other nations and other schools. Look to research and advice, but ultimately trust yourselves–school leaders and teachers in your school–to know your own context. Generate data and feedback from your school community so that you understand the lived experiences of those in your care and can respond. Be agile and iterative. One size fits one. We need to think fast and slow at the same time, with simultaneous decisiveness, intentionality, and willingness to adapt to our community’s needs and to changing circumstances.
In considering our ‘next normal’ we can ask ourselves the following questions.
- What is it that we’ve desperately missed that we want to bring back in to schooling and education (e.g. connectedness, relationships)?
- What is it that’s been removed that we don’t want to return to (e.g. standardised testing and accountability measures)?
Finally, the current scenario has provided a fiery crucible for teacher agency and innovation. The teachers on the ground in our school systems around the world are the education system, and they are currently reshaping and flipping the system from the ground up, at pace, on the fly, and with professional expertise, integrity and heart.