Covid-19 has caused chaos everywhere, including amongst our schools. But it has also created some opportunities and this blog post is about a few of those missed opportunities and a plea to think longer term about the situation we are in.
Firstly, we are all Teaming and Zooming but really we ought to be Videoing. There is a big conversation about Zoom including privacy, connectivity, reliability, latency and security. But it’s a choice to have lessons live or not and we should be choosing not. There are many reasons – one is that video teaching can help EAL students by using subtitles. You can’t do that with Zoom in live time. Also, you can access the video at anytime or in any location. If you download at another time, you can take your learning offline. Asynchronous video has more reliability, more connectivity, no issues with latency and has better security. We don’t need to worry about “Zoom-bombing” or what happens in real time. But most usefully for teachers and schools, if we just focus on video teaching we will have ample cover resources and with some forethought an entire Virtual Learning Experience for any student that needs it in the future. But we are sacrificing these opportunities for live online lessons which have no lasting impact. Parents want live, I get that and the social aspects are important but unless we think this situation is going to last a very, very long time it is temporary and video teaching is what we really need. Just think – no more worries about cover, just put on one of the videos, with a task. No more desperate searching Tesresources and Twinkl.
Secondly, the government is missing a trick here. All it needs to do is move the school year. There aren’t any exams so it doesn’t matter. Start the school year in January and end it in December. Stop the crazy six week holiday in the summer and finish this school year in December after relaunching the summer term in September. GCSE and A-Levels to be when the weather is cold in November. Then universities can open in January, hopefully with the international students they desperately need to keep financially afloat. The kids still do their exams, just postponed. And then keep this system going. Finish the school year on 1st December and make the holiday season a real holiday. No more predicted grades, there will ample time to get the exams marked and returned and offers made based on real results.
Finally, we are missing the opportunity of widening the curriculum. If we take my advice and basically postpone the end of this academic year to the end of this calendar year then we have four months now to focus on something different. And most people are already doing something different. This is the time for project work, cooking, instrument practice, drawing and reading. If we postpone the year let’s use this pause time to do something different. Everyone has been crying out for this but now it’s happening, we seem to be incredibly confused.
Some of these decisions can be taken by schools and others by governments but one thing I can assure you of, we will look back at this time and think “why didn’t we do … when we had the time?”