To find yourself, think for yourself

We will be embracing a term of remote learning from next week. That is probably a worst-case scenario and I hope and expect we will be functioning as something that resembles a traditional School well before the end of term. Getting back to normal is a priority for everyone. Teachers all over the world have been scrambling for some weeks now and it is to their credit that they have adapted to provide a worthwhile learning experience. It has required us to be agile, flexible, resourceful and imaginative.

The teachers who will find the remote learning phase most difficult are probably those trying to replicate traditional classroom delivery. The first step on the road to alcoholic recovery is admission, and this is also the first step on the road to remote learning nirvana. We need to admit that remote learning is at best different, and almost certainly less efficient. Defining what success looks like is important to its evaluation and I estimate that working to 50% efficiency during extended remote learning is a clear win.

Remote learning does not mean slavish devotion to technological platforms. I delivered most of my lessons face to face via Zoom in the early days of remote learning, but I expect to pull back over time. Given the choice of a pupil reading, memorising and then stepping outside to recite a poem as an early-morning sun salutation, or watching a set of voice annotated power-point slides, I know which I would choose.

One of the inevitabilities of remote learning is that it will cause a stretching effect amongst pupils. Those who are bright, motivated and resourceful will have a fulfilling educational experience and those who lack a strong work ethic and self-regulation will fall behind. Developing independent learners has been a mantra for Schools for at least the last two decades; now we are able to judge the fruits of our labours.

Everyone is able to learn independently. Granted there are some who will learn more, or quicker, but the ability to learn is within the control of us all. What varies is the willingness to stick to a task, the conviction not to give up until what needs to be learned has been learned. It is as much a test of character as it is of ability. A remote environment presents opportunities to learn, but also opportunities for distraction. As teachers we need to accept that and be willing to pass some genuine responsibility over to those tasked with learning.

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