Flipped classrooms and using digital media have been around for many years, and while some schools had gone further than others to embrace the opportunities available using web based tools, many international schools were very fixed in their mindset that chalk and talk was the backbone of teaching. And when the Covid pandemic struck, many international schools were faced with the challenge that a significant number of their students may have been sent back “home” wherever that was, and that the only way to adapt was to go fully online with their learning. Seemingly overnight, teachers have become adept at zoom or google meet classroom sessions and breakout groups. While schools have now opened back up of course, with a big sigh of relief by teachers and parents, the fact that the schools were forced to push learning online has somehow now broken the invisible ceiling that was there – all teachers now have seen what is possible. And while it is less desirable than having the students in the classroom in front of you, hopefully it has opened up the potential for more flipped classroom sessions whereby learning can be more effective and impactful.
Covid-19 and Board Training
Just as with classrooms and businesses, the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted international school boards tremendously. Many international schools, particularly those in less developed areas, have faced a decline in enrolment which may be in part due to families relocating “back home” where medical facilities are better, or may be due to the economic impact of covid whereby parents can no longer justify the fees. Either way, these are challenging times for school boards and as budget cuts need to be made it is tempting to cut out those activities that are seen as less essential. By prioritising strategies for dealing with the pandemic in the classrooms and ensuring that those at the “chalk-face” are looked after, this means that sacrifices have to be made elsewhere, including board training. While this is an understandable conclusion, it can still be counterproductive to the success of the school. Where boards are scrambling to adapt to the prevailing circumstances, this may also be associated with a turnover of trustees, leaving the board in a more vulnerable position. Fortunately, the same concepts that have been used in classrooms to keep students engaged in their online learning can be used to effectively provide support to school boards too.