The following article comes from foreign language teacher Mercedes Roberts, who shares the lessons learned during this period of home learning.

The world of education is an ever-evolving cycle of development and change. It is often said that in order to be a good practitioner, one must be a reflective practitioner. Therefore, it should be no surprise that the turn of events causing education to move online has caused many of us to reflect on what we can learn from this experience to improve our delivery of education in the future.

Like many educators, juggling my new role of supporting students from home has been challenging and has led me to adapt and use my problem-solving skills more than ever. Just a few of the challenges I have faced have been finding ways to engage students to continue with their studies, supporting those without internet access, measuring the completion of work, addressing misconceptions and delivering effective feedback through a screen. However, like many others, I have made use of this time to cram in as much continual professional development as possible.

Reinventing Curriculum Models

Many schools and departments are in the process of reinventing their curriculum models based on cognitive science. Having joined my school in January, I had begun to implement best practice from my previous school in my new department. However, developing and improving a curriculum is not something that can be easily done in a short amount of time, nor can a ‘cookie cutter’ style be lifted from one school and implemented in another without adaptations to the individual context that each school possesses.

With the department now working from home, we have been able to spend more time researching the science behind the best practice models that we would like to implement, and although it may seem obvious to some, I now firmly believe that a good curriculum needs to be research driven. Looking ahead, I hope that my team and I will be better equipped to understand the ‘why’ behind our new curriculum model.

Social Inequality

Unfortunately, social inequality has been highlighted through distance learning. As challenging as this is, it has motivated me to consider how we can truly support these students when they are not in the classroom. I am now considering the planning and delivery of homework for when we do return to be equally as important as the curriculum would be in school.

Access to Online Resources

Whilst I have always been a competent technology user, the first thing I discovered when we started to deliver our online curriculum is that there is a wealth of online resources and educational technology that have been developed or can be adapted to support e-learning. I quickly started to feel like I had been living in the stone ages of teaching technology and needed to do some more research on these resources.

I have always used and promoted what I feel works best in context, so my takeaway from this situation is that there are some really great resources out there that merit further exploration in the future.

Students engaging in online learning

Learning in the Future…

I am so proud of all of the students who are managing to complete their work from home under such challenging circumstances. In my subject of modern foreign languages, lessons are often particularly teacher-led and students require a high success rate before they feel ready to work individually. I feel that through our careful planning and scaffolding, students have managed to gain a sense of accomplishment through their independent learning. I hope that this experience will promote more autonomous learning in the future so that we can work hand in hand with great educational technology. Furthermore, as a result of schools developing such great online systems which pupils now feel more confident to use, we can look to promote a more eco-friendly approach to student support by delivering revision resources, knowledge organiser booklets and key information on electronic platforms.

In addition to being proud of my students, I have also been proud of the profession. Teachers have demonstrated huge amounts of adaptability in such challenging circumstances. I have no doubt that the lessons learned from this difficult time will have a profound and positive impact on education in the future.

Mercedes Headshot

Author

Mercedes Roberts

Mercedes is Head of MFL at a large comprehensive school in the West Midlands, with an MA in Teaching Studies and BA in Hispanic Studies. She is passionate about teaching and learning as well as curriculum.

Follow Mercedes on Twitter @mflRoberts and on LinkedIn.