WAY OF LIFE
Lessons learned and lessons pending with Europass Teacher Academy
Robin DeSantis, TF x
January 24, 2021 – 9:31 PM
For the sustainable development of our communities, the United Nations underlines the need to âguarantee inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for allâ. The COVID-19 pandemic has put an unfortunate drag on this goal, exacerbating inequalities in education and seeing the most vulnerable students and families struggling to make the switch to distance learning. Not to mention, widespread school closures have resulted in disruption in social and peer networks, as well as growing mental health issues for students and teachers.
The events of the past year can, at best, seem overwhelming. But rather than wallowing in uncertainty, in the injustices highlighted by this global health crisis, we can see this moment as a call to action. We can begin to reinvent our schools to better meet the needs of students of diverse backgrounds and abilities. We can think beyond the confines of the formal classroom in favor of a holistic, multisensory approach to learning. Maybe our education systems needed reform anyway.
Washing the toys, photo courtesy of the author
With the introduction of distance learning, teachers can build stronger relationships with parents and guardians, to make sure students get the support they need at home. At any school level, teachers can assign activities that involve collaboration with family members, help with household chores, explore the neighborhood, exercise, cook, make art with recycled materials, etc. specific to Italy Maria montessori advocated the development of these daily life skills for more autonomy and self-confidence. Likewise, many of our social activities have moved outside where nature-based learning is possible, providing measurable benefits including increased attention span and academic achievement. The possibilities for experiential learning in and around the home are endless – plus they don’t require an internet connection or personal device.
In preparing for an eventual return to regular face-to-face learning, let’s also rethink our time spent together in person. The reverse class approach to teaching and learning deserves our attention. In a flipped classroom, teachers present a topic via homework, then students arrive in class ready to work on the material with their peers. Unlike the more traditional method of introducing content to school, assigning homework to be done independently outside of school hours. Instead, the time spent together is highly interactive, promoting students’ social development as well as their retention of information. Even in a virtual classroom, students can interact with each other in breakout rooms or share their ideas in an online forum.
Just because some students today are physically isolated doesn’t mean they have to feel socially isolated or uninspired. New technologies offer teachers and students unprecedented opportunities for virtual communication and collaboration. Through online learning platforms, we can create our own digital portfolios, mind maps, blogs, podcasts, video presentations, online quizzes, etc. Students can exchange content with other students across town or across the world. Digital media is the language of our time, and we would be remiss if it were not incorporated into our programs. When access is an issue, we can request educational technology resources from district leaders or aid organizations, or we can donate our additional resources to support communities in need.
Europass teacher training session
In this new year, let’s take advantage of this invitation to overhaul the educational standards. Together, we can make our schools more inclusive, equitable and modern. Let’s find new ways to cultivate soft skills like teamwork, self-regulation and adaptability, for healthier students and communities. Because health is not simply the absence of COVID-19, but rather a state of physical, mental and social well-being – shaped in many ways by the quality of our education.
ABOUT THE EUROPASS TEACHERS ACADEMY
In an effort to support educators and families in the transition to distance and blended learning, Europass Teachers Academy – a teacher training school based in Florence, with 18 sites across Europe and leading provider of professional development courses for teachers under the Erasmus + program – launched the Online Teachers Academy, offer courses in Online Curriculum Design, Digital Literacy, Creative Arts, Stress Management, Mindfulness, and more.
Learn about the latest technological tools for teaching and e-learning with Europass EdTech 2021 guide, including a detailed list of user-friendly apps and e-learning platforms. Or browse the Europass Teacher Academy online course catalog and register for an online professional development course today.
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