Wow! 2020 was definitely a year to remember (or not). While it went quickly in so many ways, it also went by so slowly. It's easy to focus on all of the negative because, let's be honest, there was SO MUCH of it. However, there were also many positive outcomes that will change the way that we do things from here on out.
We've all talked about sustainable change in education for some time. We've known that it was important for technology to become a priority and realized the importance of collaboration. However, knowing the importance of something and actually prioritizing those actions are two different things.
2020 had a way of leveling the playing field. Let me explain...there was no district, campus, or classroom that was totally prepared for what we've experienced. There were no best practices, no blog posts, no YouTube videos, and no podcasts that you could listen regarding emergency remote learning during a pandemic. I would go out on a limb and say that no one knew how it could be done in those first few days. And then...magic began to happen. Teachers began to try new things, experiment with new ideas, and share their experiences. Some things worked, some things didn't, but the reality is that we will never be the same.
Goals are important but this year, focusing on growth has been even more important. Moving past simply surviving this experience and thriving as a result of the experience is all about perspective. You see, focusing on goals can be disappointing right now. The reality is that many of us had goals for 2020 that we didn't even have the opportunity to meet. But, we did grow. We grew in spite of our circumstances...and that is something that we should be very proud of.
All of that being said, below are 3 ways that I believe 2020 and the remote learning experience helped the educational community grow.
1. Collaboration became key. So, it's not a secret that collaboration is not always a priority in education. It's easy to get focused on our own classrooms, our own students, and just do what we know. However, within the remote learning experience, I believe educators became more collaborative. Even though we had to communicate differently, it's almost fair to say that many of us communicated more. It was more important than ever to ask questions, learn from each other, and share our own experiences. We realized that even though it sounds cliche, we really ARE all in this together and we realized that we are better together. My hope is that this collaborative mindset will continue to grow and help educators develop in the days ahead.
2. Technology was no longer optional. Edtech has been huge for a while now. There are new tech tools created every day for educators to utilize in the classroom. The remote learning experience made technology more important than ever before and it is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. Tools like Flipgrid, Schoology, Google for Education, and more became necessary for most students to learn. I have talked to so many educators that used these tools out of desperation during the pandemic but have vowed to continue to use them in such innovative ways moving forward. They have overcome their fear and realized that technology has a way of making things more manageable and even more meaningful when used well. While you will never hear me suggest that technology HAS to be involved for real learning to happen, I do believe that so many of the tools used throughout our current circumstances have helped both educators and learners make important connections.
3. We are moving toward sustainable change. For me, this is HUGE. There have been so many things that needed to change but because of the lack of resources, time, and a real understanding of the impact those changes might have, we have been slow to move. Because of the remote learning experience, many campuses and districts have provided more access and they have realized the need for flexibility moving forward. While I know that time is still a huge obstacle that we haven't completely figured out yet, I have seen educators speaking out on the need for time to plan, time to collaborate, and time to reflect on what is or isn't working. Sustainable change, change that lasts, is imperative for education right now. Going back to business as usual would be taking three steps back after so much work has gone into moving forward.
So, that's it. 2020 was not a total loss. We've learned, we've grown, and we will never be the same. That being said, 2021 brings hope and a new perspective that will forever change the way that we see learning. I'd love to hear your thoughts about we've grown during this time. Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!