There has never been a change like this in teaching and learning. Never this big. Never this fast.
The public education system is conservative. Change comes slowly, after years of lobbying by educators, parents, and other advocates. For every person that lobbies for a change, there are always two people who fiercely oppose it.
Most reform initiatives come and go as quickly as school and government leaders do. Other changes are fought for and won over a long period of time. Inclusion is a battle that has been fought for decades. Mandating e-learning courses as a graduation requirement has sparked a fierce battle between unions and governments that will rage on for years to come.
Every change initiative encounters resistance. Progress is slow. You can’t turn a cruise ship on a dime.
But the COVID-19 pandemic has turned everything we know upside down in a matter of weeks.
Businesses are shuttered and loved ones are laid off. Roads are empty, and public spaces are off limits. Going for groceries is like gearing up for war. We take refuge in our homes as deaths grow exponentially in cities and villages around the world.
Children need something that they can count on in the world right now. That something can be us.
In a time marked by uncertainty and fear, we can provide our students with a much needed sense of normalcy and continuity in their lives. Our primary role as teachers is to build trusting relationships with our students, to help them believe in themselves and in their future. It always has been, and it always will be.
Teachers are worried and stressed too. On top of everything else, we suddenly need to figure out how to change everything we know and do, into something entirely different. And we needed to do it yesterday.
We are suddenly all rookies again. We are learning on the fly. Some are scared, and most are overwhelmed. But we should all be excited. We are now free from our own heavy expectations to be perfect in our classroom.
This is the time to play, and the time to learn. It is the time to experiment, to take risks, and try new things.
There is no blueprint our next steps should follow. We are in uncharted territory. We are not teaching an online course, or distance education. We are adapting to a crisis, and playing our part to help our community. We are making history.
We have all been pulled out of our comfort zones, and that is exactly where true growth happens. Things surely won’t be perfect, but all anyone is asking of us right now is that we give it our best shot.
Our pedagogy will forever be changed by this great experiment. So will the entire education system.
When all is said and done, teaching and learning will never be the same. There is no denying it, and there is no reversing it.