Purposeful Learning During the Pandemic is no Small Feat

SAHETI School > Blog > Purposeful Learning During the Pandemic is no Small Feat

By Mrs Sophia Zachariou

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on the last school year globally. Now, experts in the education system are in discourse trying to look ahead on how ongoing outbreaks will affect education in both the near and distant future. 

Many school systems developed protocols that have permitted onsite learning within a hybrid model. And, even though the quality and support systems around remote learning have improved, pupils who have barriers to learning, stress, isolation or a lack of resources have become even more vulnerable. 

The pandemic has encouraged conversation and action from us teachers to develop new teaching styles and techniques to educate and connect with our pupils effectively. Nonetheless, there is one thing which most teachers globally seem to agree to: a computer is no match for a classroom as a place, for children to learn. 

Surveys have indicated that some segments of the pupil population have been affected more than others, especially the pupils in the lower grades. The McKinsey Survey illustrates that the full impact of the unprecedented global shift to remote learning, will most likely play out in years to come. For those pupils who have had a lack of access to computers, IT skills and to ineffective teaching their results could be devastating. 

School systems that were able to invest in resources and who have quality, resourceful, and dedicated teachers, who could successfully pivot, have been most effective at minimizing the academic learning loss. The COVID-19 pandemic has widened achievement gaps and exposed weaknesses in school systems around the world. 

Although, formal education achievement is only one of the components of success in life, it strongly correlates with higher earnings and better life outcome. 

The majority of teachers polled in the McKinsey Survey show that the remote learning experienced over the past year is a poor substitute for being back in the classroom. Teachers in eight countries were asked to rate the effectiveness of remote learning when it was first rolled out in response to school shutdown between March and July of 2020. They gave it an average score of five out of ten. The grades were especially harsh from teachers in Japan and the United States, where nearly 60% rated the effectiveness of remote learning at  between one and three out of ten. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated learning trends which are refreshing to the needs of today’s pupils, as the war for talent intensifies. Teachers express a clear belief that children learn best from people and not from programmes. 

Hence, our focus will be on the social interaction of our pupils. Their emotional and mental well-being, as well as skills and concepts  in: reading, comprehension, interpretation, numeracy, understanding, application, writing, continuity of thought, and justification. 

Every day we see how COVID-19 disrupts our daily lives, and the challenges that remote learning is presenting to our pupils. Nonetheless, we have become aware of the many opportunities that the virtual classroom offers our pupils and how they can connect to learning in a new, more relevant, and exciting way. 

What has become more evident to me, is if our wish as teachers is for our pupils to want to learn, we need to  demonstrate:
C2 + P2 = L 
care & creativity + passion & purpose = learning 

When a child feels care from their teacher, and experiences  their commitment, the lesson generates, creative  thought and discourse in the classroom. A teacher’s passion for her subject is then transferred and has purpose and  relevance for the child. 

• Megan Kuhfeld at learning during COVID-19 initial findings on students’ reading and math achievement and growth. 
Collaborative for Student Growth at NWEA November 2020, nwea.org. 
• How kids are performing. Tracking the impact of COVID-19 on reading and mathematics achievement. Renaissance Learning, November 2020, renaissance.com. 
• Caroline Sharp at Schools responses to COVID-19. The challenges facing schools and pupils in September 2020, National Foundation for Educational Research, September 2020 nfer.ac.uk

‘Strength does not come from physical capacity; it comes from an indomitable will’ – Mahatma Gandhi