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Education future

2020-2021 School year reflection

As we draw this academic school year to a close, it seems more accurate to say that this has been a challenging year for all, rather than most. 

When COVID-19, or as we called it at the time, “the coronavirus” began we started to realize that this virus wasn’t going anywhere, and we had to adapt to the “new normal” of hybrid and online learning. The focus of programs and services during the pandemic was to increase access to essential items, notably the necessary technology for learning. 

In Al -Hekma International school in Bahrain we offered three fully different approaches to meet the needs and requests of different students and families. We provided ongoing, transparent communication to explain processes, highlight the latest updates, news, and educational advice that formed and shaped our dynamic plan. We guided learning during a crisis in providing teachers immediate resources. Offered a full range of content including hands-on STEAM and provided a mix of project based learning. We continued to focus on 21st century skills and worked on improving student’s public speaking , presentations skills , creativity and confidence by holding virtual activities like BYE (Bahrain Young Entrepreneurs) and Shark Tank. We are certainly grateful for health and well being of our whole school community and grateful for the patience and understanding as we all jumped into new learning methods.

Returning to school for the 2021-2022 AY will be a time to focus on:

  • Supporting the wellbeing, including the mental health, of students and staff and encouraging meaningful connections.
  • Keeping learning coherent, focusing on the highest priorities for each grade level and content area, and moving forward, whether learning is occurring in person, remotely, or is a hybrid of the two.
  • Meeting the needs of each student, including those most vulnerable, and addressing unfinished learning across remote and in-person contexts.
  • Provide social-emotional stability for students, and stress on improving the student-teacher relationships.
  • Aligning teaching roles, responsibilities, and structures to the new reality of teaching and learning and  designing schedules that accommodate this new reality, including structures for continuing learning and ensuring equity in remote environments. Schools will have to explicitly prioritize equity for all learners.
  • Planning for a flexible approach that will enable the school to respond effectively to any changes in circumstances. This flexible plan ensures to have the ability to deliver more blended learning, or indeed move fully online if needed, whilst helping to meet the learning outcomes required by the course of study.

Health and safety protocols will impact many aspects of school operations, including teaching and learning. Health and safety rules are likely to change frequently and to differ among communities. Schools will have to continue monitoring and follow guidance in a variety of domains like physical distancing, masks, temperature screenings, and disinfecting, that could impact decisions related to teaching and learning. In particular, physical distancing requirements may lead to class size constraints that cause students to attend school in staggered groups, in shifts, or in small static groupings. Understanding individual students’ needs, coupled with health and safety protocols, will require thoughtful planning.

Hybrid is hard. Flipping lessons, teachers trying to build relationships with students they’ve never seen in person, and students who are at home alone through assignments is incredibly challenging. However, the struggle of keeping it all straight gave teachers an opportunity to reflect, tweak, and adjust lessons as they went. 

Coronavirus has presented challenges for everyone over the last year, but it has also presented opportunities for us to learn and to re-think our teaching and learning strategies for the upcoming academic year. Schools are now more committed to give an experience rich in research, helping students to apply their knowledge in different contexts, and challenging them to think in new ways.

The 2020-2021 school year was unparalleled in terms of the flexibility and innovativeness K-12 administrators and educators had to utilize to work through challenges. In order to plan for the 2021-2022 school year, reflecting on past experience is vital.