All around the world, there were resounding sighs of relief once 2020 waved its last goodbye on 31 December at 23:59. Unfortunately, none of us remembered that 2020 turned 21 and is now on a bigger roll than ever before. Last year challenged each and every one of us and forced us into adapting to a new normal that nobody would have ever dreamt to sign up for.
For teachers and learners, 2021 is probably going to be even more challenging than previously to plan accordingly for the year ahead. There really are too many uncertainties with all the latest developments in the COVID-19 pandemic. We are not even halfway through January and government is already giving us whiplash with their ever-changing decisions and new lockdown restrictions and what is acceptable and what is not. Unfortunately, when life gives us lemons, we will have to make lemonade since we are no longer allowed to buy tequila.
It is of the utmost importance to ensure that we slow things down and make sure that we don’t have too many expectations in the classroom. The only constant at this point is change. In a time of uncertainty, learners need to feel supported and cared about and feel that their needs come first above anything else. Teachers need to be in tune with learners’ emotional wellbeing. Teachers need to touch base daily or even weekly just to talk about everything that is not related to academics and see how things are developing on the home front. One-on-one meetings are also a very good way to keep track and give that extra attention to each learner that is very much needed in these times.
A lesson that can be taken from 2020 is to ensure that technology is incorporated into everything that is done. Online teaching is definitely not something that has quietly disappeared out the backdoor and won’t be making a comeback. The reality is that we don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow. Not everything has to be technology-based, but ensure that you introduce certain platforms in small doses so that parents and learners are in a more comfortable space should the time come (hopefully not) where the classroom becomes a living room and a screen. It is all about flexibility and adapting.
Always ensure that communication lines to parents are open. Now more than ever, teachers will have to over-communicate to parents what is going on in the classroom and what is going on in the curriculum. Textbooks are taking quite the backseat as life is currently dictating what curriculum is being taught. Every day is like a box of chocolates, you have no idea what you are going to get.
Teachers are creatures of habit and spend most of their time planning lessons and timings to a tee. The new normal has thrown planning out the door and has forced teachers, learners, and students to take each day as it comes and it truly is about adapting. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel, it is not just schools that are being forced to work outside of the normal routine that is known to us, businesses are in the exact same boat and need to do whatever it takes to survive. If Will Smith could do it in the movie “I Am Lengend”, so can we as a nation. We are all in this together and making the best of each day is in our own hands!
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