Post #1 in a series of seven: big takeaways from the pandemic year for school leadership teams.
Great learning is not dependent on buildings, classrooms, or even campuses. Great learning can take place anywhere. Great learning is dependent on relationships, engagement, and intrinsic motivation, and these can be both amplified and dampened in a traditional school setting.
This does NOT mean that we should all stay home and learn virtually!! Heck no! There are so many aspects of the face-to-face experience for students and teachers that are hard, if not impossible to replicate in a virtual environment. But, as I have been saying for years, school will become “the place we meet”, not “the place we go to learn”.
Leading schools are already developing a hybrid mindset for their future program development. They see opportunities for their (older) students to take some virtual classes rather than reverting to a 100% face-to-face program. Why not? We know virtual learning can be effective, and by building hybrid options into the program students can have more choice, schedules become more flexible, and schools can save money. The only thing that is lost is that comfortable feeling that our students need us, their adults, sitting in their classrooms with them every hour of every day.
It is inconceivable that 20 years from now, hybrid learning will NOT be a component of most high schools. The best schools will increasingly offer a range of learning options that include the classroom, online, and community-mentored “real world” experiences blended along pathways tailored to different learning styles, speeds, and interests of the individual learner. Non-classroom learning will not be the tangent to “regular” school that it mostly is today.
Your choice is easy: revert to the past or embrace the future. Press the brakes or accelerate out of the curve. That may not be within your comfort zone, but if the last year has taught us anything, it is that our collective comfort zones are fragile and endangered places.