Returning to Fall Learning with Course Packs
Many of our community partners returning to school in the fall won’t return to the same classrooms they left in March. While the physical spaces haven’t changed, how educators set up and use these spaces has changed greatly. Educators will need to adhere to social distancing, keeping learners at a 2-metre distance at all times. Both learners and educators will need to wash their hands upon entering and leaving the school. Some may opt to wear a mask in the classroom, or others may don personal protective equipment.
Remote Learning Challenges
Applying social distancing in remote schools maybe even more of a challenge. In many cases, the schools are small and short on space. They don’t have enough educators to maintain the recommended maximum class sizes. For Northern or remote schools, finding great educators can be difficult at the best of times. Recruiting for these roles during a pandemic may be a greater challenge.
Struggle to Shift to At-Home Learning
There will also be a shift in learning beyond safety equipment and new policies. When COVID-19 struck at the beginning of this year, we closed schools and quickly enforced social distancing to stop the virus’s spread. It became clear that many schools were not prepared to support learners or educators in a fully remote model. Learners were not equipped with the hardware, connectivity, or print materials to complete their school work. Educators were not accustomed to preparing and delivering work packages or hosting remote sessions with their learners by phone or internet. Parents were not accustomed to playing the teaching assistant role to ensure their children stayed on task and worked on their assignments.
Some schools managed the shift better. Some educators dove into this new world of instruction. They embraced the opportunity to shake up what they were teaching and how they engaged with learners. Educators picked up the phone, did drive-by drop-offs of work to learners’ front doors, spent time on video chats with their classes, and responded to questions by text message. Some even took active roles in the community response to COVID-19. They coordinated meals for Elders and shored up food supplies for the community.
Challenges of Integrating In-Person Learning
How will this all play out in the fall when the government expects learners to return to school? Without added space, educators may need to get creative in teaching and using their classrooms. Educators, particularly in First Nations communities, may need to think of schools differently. This may mean teaching in shifts, with some learners attending school in the mornings and others in the afternoons. Schools may group learners and assign groups different days to attend school and work on assignments and projects at home. This may mean educators assign more work to complete during non-class time.
Planning for Remote Learning
It is also clear that all schools must plan to shift to 100% remote easily should the need arise. Schools should be able to “flip a switch” and continue their instruction in a fully remote scenario. Should there be a community outbreak or second wave, learners can continue learning at home.
Learning Bird has been busy brainstorming how to help educators get ready for this shift. We’ve been talking with principals about their plans and have added a new resource to our offerings to fill the emerging need for at-home learning.
Course Packs for At-Home Learning
We now offer custom Course Packs educators can assign to learners in grades 6-8. These Course Packs will include at-home projects and assignments that most learners can complete on their own without parental supervision or guidance. They use a cross-curricular approach to learning that ties in with the local language and culture. Our team made the course packs fully print-based, so learners do not need access to the internet or a device. Our team designed the Course Packs around themes. The individual activities are stand-alone projects or assignments. Educators can easily curate the Course Pack to meet their learners’ needs.
We will be pairing these new Course Packs with a custom professional development session for educators via video conference. This session will focus on how to teach in a hybrid model effectively and use the Learning Bird Course Packs as part of their overall instruction plan. We will also offer an optional midterm remote coaching session to educators to share their experiences and work with our team to troubleshoot any issues and brainstorm how to improve instruction.
If you would like to discuss whether custom Learning Bird Course Packs would work for your school, contact us by phone (1-888-844-9022 ext. 808) or email.