The 5 R’s of The New Normal
We’re breaking new ground next week as we return to school with our Grade 7s and Grade 12s phasing in. Change is hard and, for parents and teachers alike, it is stressful.
We shall indeed be doing everything we can to ensure the safety of our learners and staff in the days and weeks ahead, and I am fortunate to belong to a group of schools led by an executive with people-management skills. Navigating through the storms that threaten us as we re-open our schools is going to require strong leadership.
I’d like to share some insight from a leadership forum I attended this week:
As you know, in past years we used to speak about the 3 Rs of education:
- aRithmetic (I know -the R’s have never worked for me either.)
This has of course changed with 21st Century Education which focuses on the 6Cs (Creativity, Collaboration, Communication, Critical thinking, Character, Citizenship).
Here are the 5 Rs of this new stage in our post-COVID-Lockdown schools. (The list is purloined, but the interpretations are mine, I should stress.)
We are having to take many decisions and many are hard ones in the shifting sands of the pandemic landscape. Information is a swirl of changing facts and our Standard Operating Procedures can never be a fixed, lifeless document. We are learning to live with constant, rapid change and must be adaptable and flexible, like palm trees in a cyclone.
But we must make decisions. We cannot stand around dithering. Not even Nero’s supposedly musical fiddling helped to save Rome from fire (if you believe that legend.) We must be resolute in our desire to forge ahead now and serve our school communities So we must be both strong and decisive, and supple in how we navigate the way ahead.
We must stay the distance. My school will still be here to tell the tale when COVID-19 is as distant a memory as smallpox, but we have to take careful steps to adjust how we do things in order to make it through this time. As Michael Bolton tells us in the lyrics from his song in the cartoon, Hercules: ‘[We] can go the distance!’
3. Return (Renewed with Remote)
We are like heroes returning to the winter of school like bears disturbed from hibernation. Education will never be the same again. If it’s more of the same, we shall have learned nothing over this time. And that will be to our shame. We have been forced deeper into the technological era and developed remote learning and teaching skills no training programme could have achieved, because necessity is the mother of invention. Not only have we developed new expertise, which we shall continue to develop with the new hybrid model of teaching, we must continue to expand our technological capabilities. With the first new visualizers being installed in classes from next week, enabling us to better project our live streaming to children at home, as well as actively teaching those in front of us, we are heading into new territory.
That there will be teething problems with this, I have no doubt, but I am certain too that we shall overcome these challenges also. So, I hope our community bears with us in the days to come as we settle into an entirely new way of doing things, yet again.
This is the new normal.
4. Re-imagine (Re-invent, Re-interpret)
Our growth and development will not stop with these advances, we must continue to re-imagine our school. We have some exciting things planned around languages for 2021, and our burgeoning film school also has new horizons to explore. All of these will be developed around the new reality that COVID-19 has created globally.
We plan to push into the next normal.
As we experiment and develop education in the years to come, it is all rather pointless if we do not reform the community (and indeed the world) we live in. We must not merely re-make education; we must make it better. We must change the world, no matter how lofty an ideal that seems.
What has not changed in my school’s mission is to constantly remind young people that they are part of something bigger than themselves.
‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has.’Margaret Mead