I think by now, all us educators are acutely aware of the small crack in the door that has presented itself for truly re-imagining education when we re-open our school campuses.
It’s an exciting opportunity, but can also feel like a one-shot chance for pushing the envelope and shifting the paradigm.
“The Quest stands upon the edge of knife. Stray but a little, and it will fail.”
Although we’re not setting out with Gandalf to save Middle Earth, Galadrial’s words help us remember how important, and likely, fragile this opportunity is.
So how can we make sure we don’t waste this chance? How can we make sure we don’t repeat the mistakes we’ve made in the past? How can we make sure true change is brought about?
I think our answer comes from the second half of that quote:
“Hope remains while the company is true.”
But reflecting on who gets to be part of the “company” on this quest is essential.
What voices are included in making decisions about re-opening? What voices are neglected or excluded?
At our school, we want our re-opening plans to include the reflections, suggestions and ideas of our entire learning community. So before the school year ended and everyone began their holiday, we made sure to ask.
We made sure to ask what lessons we learned from Distance Learning that we could apply to future attempts at Distance Learning. And more importantly, what lessons we learned from Distance Learning that we could apply to to face-to-face school.
We asked our entire staff:
We asked every single one of our learners:
(In written form for the older learners)
(And with videos and voice option for the younger learners)
We asked our whole parent community:
Our next steps are to code that qualitative data from the surveys, draw conclusions from the trends and use those conclusions to inform the work we do over the coming months to get ready to re-open school in the fall.
So now, hopefully, our re-opening plans are not merely the reflection of what a handful of leaders think, but rather the leaders are able to make decisions and create something representative of what our entire community thinks.
What else could we be doing to ensure we don’t waste this chance to push the boundaries of what school could be?
What else could be doing to ensure our planning process is inclusive of all voices?