In the current pandemic, up to eighty-nine percent of (or five million) students have had their school year affected. The situation has called for teachers and schools to get very creative, to ensure that learning can continue for children around the world.
Here’s a snapshot of how our teachers have been getting very innovative with their classes.
In Spain, one teacher using Facebook Live, is doing art therapy classes online, that are open to anyone. In response, some students take pictures of their artwork and post them. It’s been hugely popular. The teacher is even archiving the class sessions to YouTube.
Also, at the same school in Spain, they went ahead with their plans for Spirit Week by having a Virtual Spirit Week. It was very successful and included a focus on the students’ emotional health.
In Asia, one learning center is having English language learners create videos and then send them back to their teachers for review and assessment.
Another site in Asia is doing more “Block Learning” of courses. That is, students spend the school day focusing on half of their subjects in March and April. Then they’ll focus on the other half of their subjects in May and June. This would be a variation of the semester system that sees students usually work on four courses at a time, and then switch half-way through the school year to focus on the remaining subjects.
In some parts of Africa, teachers have gotten creative when dealing with internet and electricity outages. For example, a teacher may record a video or post an assignment on Tuesday morning when they have electricity and an internet connection. A student may not be able to access that new material until Thursday when they have power and reasonable internet service. The student can then complete any assignments and send them back, to be looked at by the teacher and get feedback.
In Latin America, the government has imposed severe restrictions for leaving your home, with very stiff penalties for disobedience. Due to civil unrest last October and November, schools were actually shut down for twenty-one days. This included Santa Cruz Christian Leaning Center (SCCLC) in Bolivia. Maribel Ayos, Head of Schools, Latin America, shares, “He prepared us for the quiet time.” She notes that when they came back in January, they had already implemented a blended learning system and families of students had been quite receptive.
All this innovation is also changing our vocabulary. Terms like “asynchronous learning,” (literally meaning “not in sync”) now describe “the new normal” of how learning is happening. While students may hope for a “Conoracation,” (vacation) their teachers are persevering. The last thing teachers want is to get “Zumped!” It means your Zoom call has dropped. And it’s on to the next creative solution.
 UNESCO News, March 31, 2020. Unesco.org/news/covid-19 school closures