The New Normal - Teaching When the Class is at Home
We wanted to call this piece “The universally-approved, all-encompassing guide to teaching during the COVID-19 crisis” but it seems there isn't one. Sorry.
Apart from the odd bunker-dwelling survivalist, very few of us can claim to have been completely prepared for this. We missed the PD course on pandemics, and no one brought it up in assembly. We’re faced with a situation none of us has had to deal with before, and there’s no instruction manual. Adaptation is the new black, and it’s painful – more than a few of us have felt a little bit like this teacher (sound on low for this one).
You do you
The solution (and there generally is one) is, whatever works, works. Whatever you can come up with is, more than likely, going to be the best answer. Any educator who sees a challenge is uniquely qualified to address it; the tools, the support and the knowledge are all actually there for the asking. It takes ingenuity, a bit of time, and force of will to make things happen. None of those factors is without personal cost – it’s not necessarily easy – but it is possible to put together great solutions to immediate problems. Your solution is the solution.
Beg, borrow, steal
Except you don’t have to. This is one of the more heartwarming aspects of our current situation – many people are really trying to make a difference, and want to contribute what they can. At Instructure we know more about our own customers and partners, so we can’t claim the following list is exhaustive, but we think it might provide you with some ideas:
Remote learning tools
A free Canvas account lets you use the essential functionality of Canvas LMS, even if your institution isn't a Canvas customer. It’s not just free for teachers—it's free for you, your students, their parents, and anyone else who wants to use Canvas learning tools. A user of this product doesn’t get quite all of the polish our customers get, and more importantly, they don’t get all the support and service, but if you need a Learning Management System, be our guest.
This is for all educators, not just Canvas customers. You’re bound to find something useful, and something you can follow up here. Continuously updated.
Some of our favourites so far
From educators hitting COVID-19 head-on:
- 10 Essential Principles and Practices
- St Andrew’s Anglican College, Qld- Online Teaching and Learning hub
- LEVEL UP - the online learning project from Haileybury in Victoria
- Our Lady of Mercy College, Parramatta, NSW have created this continuous learning site
- Options for turning physical classrooms into virtual classrooms - from members of the Canvas Community
- NSW Association of Independent Schools’ portal
- How NBSC Balgowlah Boys school implemented a consistent approach to online learning (Instructure-hosted webinar)
When will it end?
That depends. At the time of writing, the New South Wales government, for example, is talking of getting students back into school sometime during Term 2. Other states and territories are either already there, or may be keeping the majority of students at home until further notice. For schools expecting to resume on-site teaching, various approaches have been put forward, including some kind of staggered return, or perhaps an initial part-time arrangement. Certainly, different states and territories will do things according to their own agendas, and public and independent, and primary and secondary institutions may take their own approaches. There’s a chance, however, that new rules and working patterns will be introduced, perhaps concerning social distancing and general hygiene, and those will present new challenges. It’s going to be interesting…
The Next Normal
Things may not be exactly the same again. Once we come through to the other side, we may never go back to the ‘normal’ of the pre-COVID-19 world. Some things, good and bad, will no doubt resurface, but some of the recent changes forced upon us may stick. In an example from the corporate world, it seems many companies are intending to shift additional workers from on-site to permanently remote roles once this has passed –having everyone rock up for the 9-5 drudge apparently isn’t necessary after all. If this transpires, it represents a fundamental shift, and one that could impact other aspects of post-COVID-19 life.
Schools probably won’t keep all the students at home (parents might consider this a bad idea), but there are other topics that have been raised in recent weeks that it may be worth thinking about post-COVID-19. Potential takeaways include:
If you use any kind of social media, you’ll have seen far too many posts on how to work from home (not especially useful for those teachers who are still turning up to school each day). But there are nearly as many descriptions of how your peers are dealing with this crisis in a practical and effective manner – most of these people are only too happy to engage and advise on what works for them. Check the industry forums, Linkedin and Twitter, explore outside your own region, and our own COVID-19 page contains useful information from some of our staff and customers. Is there a way to continue this invigorated level of interaction?
Teachers are Essential Workers. We kind of knew that already, but now everyone else does too! (Parents, in particular, seem to be increasingly cognisant.) How would it be if that label stuck? What will you do if it does?
Whatever happens, we’ll keep doing what we’re doing to support education, in the best way we can. And no doubt you’ll keep on doing the amazing things you’ve always done, but maybe in new ways.
In the meantime, We see you, Teachers. Thank you. Keep learning.
Senior Bid Manager, Instructure