On this page:
- Education during the pandemic
- Post-pandemic education
- • Prioritizing the social and emotional aspects of education
- • More active involvement of parents and guardians in the education of their children
- • New student competences
- • More varied forms of teaching
- • Use of new technologies
Education during the pandemic
Our Kids followed the educational developments in private schools on an ongoing basis and reported to our readers how they’re coping both in the first (spring 2020) and second waves of the pandemic (fall 2020). We talked with schools, parents, and students. The general conclusion is optimistic: private schools coped well with the crisis, both in the spring 2020 and after the summer holidays, when the new 2020/2021 school year began.
There are many reasons for this success including small class sizes that allow for a significant individualization of teaching on a daily basis, direct contact between the teacher and each student, extensive use of new technologies, focusing on interpersonal relationships, building a community, and teaching empathy. We strongly encourage you to read "Learning during the pandemic".
Families’ positive experience with learning in the pandemic has caused yet more interest in private schools, which is a significant trend in Poland.
The following quote from a mother we interviewed sums it up well:
“Once again, I thank God that my child attends a private school. I chose this school (and I enjoy it very much every day) because I knew that it is a safe environment, with no violence, no use of telephones, no showoff, good academics, small classes, three languages, great extracurricular activities, and excellent facilities. Now, even though some of these elements have not been used, one thing is certain—the school tries hard and cares for the students and for us, the parents. Teachers are available online, children can ask questions and seek advice."
The new school year will bring the opening of schools and a return to full-time in-person education (at least most likely). Even if the deadlines are delayed due to the epidemiological situation, sooner or later students and teachers will return to school, because it’s clear to everyone that this is most beneficial for students.
However, not everything about the pandemic teaching and learning was negative. The pandemic made it necessary to adapt the forms of school work to the new restrictions and schools showed great innovation and creativity in doing so. Lessons have been learned from the pandemic that have led to changes that are beneficial for students and teachers.
• Prioritizing the social and emotional aspects of education
Before the pandemic, private schools did pay attention to how students developed and felt, not only physically and academically, but also socially and emotionally. This focus on the students’ well-being is always emphasized and appreciated by both parents and students.
Schools that care about their students’ well-being create a safe space for them to learn, but also to develop physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and spiritually, and simply to have a good time.
The great importance of the social and emotional spheres in education is confirmed by the results of our own nationwide survey "Why parents choose private schools?", part of the second edition of the report on the condition of private education in Poland, "Report on private education - 2019". The study showed that parents value a safe environment in private schools, where children are treated individually, have good interactions with teachers and the school, and give children the opportunity to acquire soft skills, not only knowledge.
The pandemic has clearly demonstrated the crucial role of this aspect of learning. Private schools treated it as a priority, which is described in detail in the article “Student well-being—strategies of private schools”.
• More active involvement of parents and guardians in the education of their children
Never before have parents had the opportunity to see what their kids’ learning and school lessons look like and how teachers teach. Virtual learning led parents and guardians to observe their children's learning on a daily basis. Parents had to and wanted to become more involved in its course both through more interaction with children and with the school. Many parents emphasized in conversations with Our Kids how much they value close contact with the school, the schools consulting them, informing them on a regular basis, and seeking their opinion. In schools around the world, parents are close to their children's school: they engage, help, and participate in the life and work of the school. This model proved successful in private schools during the pandemic and is worth maintaining because parents value it highly.
• New student competences
Students have learned a lot during the pandemic: better time management, taking control of their own learning, knowing that it’s their responsibility (and only theirs) to find the time and energy to complete school assignments on time, without being micromanaged.
In our article “Learning during the pandemic, seen through the eyes of parents,” parents emphasize that the pandemic taught their children:
• New skills: Children learned many useful skills that will be useful in the future: writing emails, using a variety of computer applications, searching for information, and ways to deal with various problems;
• New habits: Children had to control the elements that previously were imposed on them or prepared for them. Before, kids used to come to school and their lesson plan, schedule, and breaks had all been decided upon there. Now they have to take care of all that themselves, check what is required, announced, and communicated. “Now my son is much more organized and independent when it comes to school work,” an eighth grade dad said with clear satisfaction. Children have to be more responsible and more involved.
This new self-discipline and responsibility for oneself will remain after the pandemic and schools should capitalize on and develop this.
• More varied forms of teaching
When the schools were still open in the fall, they decided to combine the possibility of personal participation with the remote format, e.g., for students in quarantine. The International American School operated from September 2020 according to the O.M.O. (online-merge-offline): "It has allowed our students to switch from school to a home learning environment, and to be in class even when they are not physically there. Students can see the physical classroom, interact directly with their teachers and with their classmates in the classroom." The British School Warsaw has introduced the Classroom Connect system live streaming from wide-angle cameras that allows students to participate in the lesson remotely.
This is an excellent format to use after the pandemic when a student gets sick or has to study from a distant location.
Online meetings with external guests have become the norm, which has opened up opportunities that were not used so often before, e.g., inviting guests from far away to meetings/lectures/seminars, as well as interactive workshops with people from many different places.
• Use of new technologies
As shown by Our Kids’ own research, those schools that have long focused on the innovative use of new technologies in their work managed to switch to the new reality created by the first wave of the pandemic with the greatest of ease. Agnieszka Olszewska, principal of Polish-English Primary School Edison, said about digitization and implementation of new technologies in her school for years: "As time has shown, it was the best decision, thanks to which e-education is an evolution, not a revolution for us".
Private schools are known for being technically advanced and rich in resources in this area. For all schools, the 2020/21 school year was a period of trials and development of various new technologies, because without them, it was impossible to work. These became a normal part of the teaching/learning environment: Zoom, Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams, GoogleMeet, Discord, SeeSaw, Kahoot!, Online Merge Offline, Sutori, and Webex. Now that their potential and everyday uses are well known, they’ll be used more often and even more innovatively, both by teachers, schools, and students.
You can read about how private schools have used new technologies during the pandemic HERE.
These are the most important positive lessons from the pandemic, but there are certainly many more that are worth maintaining.
Graham Lewis, founder and director of the Wroclaw Cosmopolitan School, quotes John Dewey: "If we teach today's students the way we taught yesterday, we rob them of tomorrow." There is no need to worry about that anymore, as never before have so many revolutionary changes taken place in such a short time. And many of them will remain with us for good.
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