Stiftelsens skolchef Kristy Lundström reflekterar över de första dagarna i den nya lärmiljön med lärarledd digital distansundervisning. Läs hennes "Wow, Worry, Wonder".

2020-03-23

Our community, country, and the world have landed in a completely new and scary situation where there is so much information coming at us from every direction. Our schools have been charged with responding to ever-changing directives, realities, and challenges all while keeping the focus on our most important task – the well-being of our students. With a shift to teacher-led, online learning, we didn’t quite know what to expect. Yes, we were prepared in terms of competence. Yet, no one was really prepared to shift all of our classroom learning all at once. I dare say that all of us have been learning as fast as possible. I know, I certainly have. Not knowing where to start, I went with a tried and true reflection activity: Wow, Worry, Wonder.

WOW
Just as it has been posted all over social media, our biggest wow has been the efforts of the whole team to make this shift to online learning possible. From our administrative staff who filtered hundreds of emails and phone calls, created new procedures and managed the details so that our school leaders could focus on students and staff; to teachers who tried new things, helped each other and quieted student fears; to the cleaning and maintenance staff who doubled up their tasks to ensure a safe working environment; to IT support staff who respond to every question; to our Student Care teams who call students who are especially at risk – all have joined in to make sure that learning is still taking place. As one school leader put it #SameButDifferent. I am reminded by a saying that we studied a few years back – Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast. I fully understand that without this school culture of “can do” and “together we achieve more” this shift would have been much more difficult.

A couple of other wows:

-During the first three days of online learning, we had between 98-100% student attendance. This is compared to 40 – 88% last week when we were all in school.
-Students who had not participated in school (at all) since August joined in from the start and were now “chatting” actively.
-Teachers were “virtually visiting” other teachers within our organization to learn best practices. This was something we had been encouraging for many years but proved difficult due to logistics.
-Professional development happened by itself. All of the research for adult learning tells us – embedded, self-directed, peer-to-peer, needs-based, aspects of choice works best. And, last week, this was exactly what happened. When big “sit and get” staff meetings were not possible, teams (virtually) huddled together to figure out good solutions. Kudos go out to our IT and school leadership teams who drafted the basic structure. That infrastructure proved to be golden. However, the real “wow” was when learning went viral across the organization. As one teacher put it, “I have learned more in the last two days than in the past three years”.
-Of course, many wows from the classroom. Here are some of my friends’ lessons:

 

WORRY
Beyond the national worry of everyone’s health and safety, I also have school worries. How will our students know that we see them and care about them? Will our students develop healthy habits at home – fresh air, exercise and brain breaks? How will we support our staff in their classroom challenges when we do not see each other all the time? What about our students who were already in need of extra support or who have a newly developed need due to the current circumstances? There are still many questions – grading/assessment, how long will this last, managing a doable workload for all, how to communicate an expectation of “good enough”, systematic support when and where needed … Luckily, in our new online learning structure, we have identified resources that we can redirect and utilize to offer a more personalized approach to support. For now, we will go student-by-student and staff member-by-staff member to make sure we “see” and “hear” every person. This will be my focus this week.

 

WONDER
As I look forward to the coming week, I wonder how I can contribute to the positivity that our staff demonstrated last week. I wonder what our attendance will be like. I wonder which tools will serve us best. I wonder what the next steps in our teachers’ professional development need to be.

This week starts a new situation in that more than half of our staff will work from home. I wonder how that will work. Looking forward, I wonder how do we manage our school culture by distance? I also wonder what I should focus on to support the teaching and learning in our schools in the best way.

In this new, ever-changing situation, this is certainly the time to share good solutions. We will share our reflections about what is happening in VR schools on this blog and on our social media channels. I will continue to read as much as I can to learn from other organizations; watch for signs of success and still-to-be-solved issues; listen to student, staff, and parent feedback and virtually visit classes to learn more myself.

 

Kristy Lundström
Skolchef, Stiftelsen Viktor Rydbergs skolor

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Kristy Lundström, skolchef
Our young adults "elevresurser" at VRS have been important support for the students in this new situation. The have done Q&A's for the students on Instagram!

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