On this labor day I have been thinking about the isolation that the pandemic has caused us, and not just as individuals, but most importantly as a group. From basketball playoffs without fans in the seats to theaters without their audiences, we sit alone at home watching our world without us. I think we need to innovate new models for teaching and learning in order to captivate ourselves again.
Point of View
When TV wanted to replace theater, they positioned the cameras to capture the three views of action on the stage. They brought in audience and coached them how to be. Now that we are trying to use zoom, we fail at personally capturing our work. Might we take some lessons from TV? Yes, but might we try to innovate how we share our work with others too? What are the ways we captivate each other in groups?
One example for classrooms is to make the curriculum delivery more interesting. By using two cameras, two points of view, as in one camera on the teacher and one camera pointing down on the pad, the teacher can show us their modern chalk board—the pad of paper and the pen! Show us your writing, your notes, your doodles! A third camera could point to an open book with an important chart, or a poem. Innovate to captivate.
Another innovation is grouping that includes keeping students safe. No more than 10 children are the current CDC guidelines. Groups of 10 are like pods. Some home-schooling groups are calling them pods. Why don’t we innovate how pods could work in schools? Chop classrooms in half? Use space not previously used? Open up space consigned to other things, or simply borrow space that was dedicated to other things? Everyone wearing masks in their pods sounds like a way we could go?
A third example is to innovate curriculum. This is the time to make things really relevant to learning, skill building, and educating for each student’s success. How can we innovate for each student? Perhaps we want to help students use technology to collect their work into electronic portfolios that will travel with them first from teacher to teacher, then from one grade to the next? Student work becomes relevant and important when it will be kept forever. Let’s make it worth the keeping? Let’s review it, revise it, make it ready for prime time!
So sitting alone means that if we want to get back together, especially in education, we need to do so with innovation, safety, and with interest-generating material, curriculum and delivery methods. Teaching and learning need a new model. What we don’t want to do is repeat the spring. Nothing should look like that again. Make this new model work for us. Keep us safe in our new models for learning. Support us in our new models as we do the important work we need to do that will be useful to us in the future. Innovate to captivate, and educate.