By its very nature, education is always on a forward trajectory; students, families, teachers, and administrators are on a lifelong path of growth and learning together. Education during a pandemic is strikingly different. Yet education must go on. In the face of challenge, we still need to envision the positive. How do we move forward and navigate this new educational landscape together? What do we wish for the future of education? How do we create stronger learning communities now and in the future? Those are some of the challenging questions I posed to a teacher of teachers, Dr. Jayme Hines, Keene State College (KSC) Early Childhood Professor, and the glass started to look a lot more full than empty.
My career has afforded me the opportunity to serve in a wide variety of positions in the field of education. From my role as a superintendent to treasured time as a classroom teacher, change has been constant . During my tenure, I’ve experienced multiple new initiatives: standards-based instruction, teacher accountability, statewide standardized assessment, mainstreaming, inclusion, UDL, performance-based assessment, and competency-based instruction, just to name a few. But none of these initiatives have turned education upside-down quite like the pandemic, which has rapidly changed the structure and design of 21st century schools as we know them. How do we adapt to change with such short notice?
Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with Dr. Hines about the impact of the move to remote learning this past spring. Specifically, we discussed the effect of remote learning on students, teachers, parents and KSC student teachers participating in field experiences. Jayme provided a unique perspective as a faculty member working with preservice teachers, as well as the parent of a high school student.
The negative impacts on students are obvious…
Despite these negatives, Dr. Hines and I were able to identify several positive impacts remote learning has had on education – the silver linings, so to speak.
So what will the future of education look like? The wisdom of John Dewey, 20th century education reformer and philosopher, reminds us that teaching and educating people, no matter your age, is fluid and subject to change every day. “If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.” Change is upon us, but with change comes a deeper understanding of the vital importance of finding new and innovative ways to engage students in their learning within safe and supportive classroom environments. When I asked Dr. Hines what she wishes for the future of education, she replied that she hopes empathy and compassion will rise above all things this school year. That we need to continue doing what’s best for all children, and figuring out ways to create community and stay connected. I couldn’t agree more!