Though the effects of COVID-19 on the workforce and schooling are not clear, the future of traditional school environments will inevitably change.
The pandemic forced schools to quickly adapt and introduce technology and new programs to keep students safe at home. Laptops, iPads, and tablets are now essential for students to complete their schoolwork. Even some of the youngest students need to learn how to use platforms such as Google Drive, Canvas, Google Meets, and Zoom in order to participate in classes and socialize with their friends.
Parents, students, and school personnel all seem to be waiting eagerly for in-person school to resume again. However, during this time of distance-learning, online tools are becoming used more frequently to enhance lessons, with both teachers and parents learning how to use them to help their child. Learning from home is widening the scope of education and the possibilities of technology that teachers and parents may have never known about before.
Distance-learning may be a temporary measure, but how will the future of schooling be impacted in the long-run?
One of the most significant changes has been the increased use of technology to make distance-learning possible. Even when students return to schools, blended learning will most likely become the norm across the United States. The blended learning model combines classroom instruction and online technology to keep learning student-centered. Introducing screen time in elementary school has already started in most public schools, but with the current reliance on online programs for learning, moving away from it even in the classroom may be very difficult. Schools will most likely implement new blended learning models in various ways to continue using technology in the classroom.
Another noteworthy change during the pandemic is the shifting roles of parents, teachers, and students. Parents have been forced to become more hands-on with their child’s learning and become involved with helping them navigate through some of these new online platforms. Teachers have taken on a more distant role as a mentor or coach because of the lack of physical proximity. Though they are still seen as the expert, their role as educators is now shared between teacher and parent.
Students have also been pushed to become more independent in their studies. While parents cannot always help them with homework or keep them accountable, students are required to take more initiative in logging into classes on time, turning in their homework, and solving any technical issues or other problems from home. This independent learning style may change the way schooling occurs in the future and how children act in the classroom.
Since the pandemic, learning pods have sprung up all around the country, where students in a community gather once or a few times a week to learn together either from a hired tutor or teacher or to do their schoolwork together. These pods allow parents to focus on work while still maintaining a more hands-on approach to their child’s learning. Homeschool or part-time school, where a child spends half of the week in a classroom and half of the week learning from home, may become more popular after the pandemic as students and parents become more accustomed to remote learning.
During this current school year, virtual classrooms have also become more common. Teachers set up a Google page that looks like their classroom with its own library, whiteboard for announcements, and other resources. The teacher can even be present virtually with an animated GIF or a Bitmoji of him or herself. It allows students to communicate with the teacher and stay on top of their assignments and class agendas. These fun virtual classrooms will most likely carry on even after in-person school resumes, acting as a resource for students who may need to stay home from school due to bad weather or illness.
The importance of supporting mental health has also become more significant with the fear that social distancing may lead to secondary consequences such as suicide rates. Many students, regardless of their socio-economic backgrounds, are also experiencing social regression to cope with their fears and stress. Social regression will not only stunt a child’s academic growth but their development as well. Schools are undoubtedly seeing the rising needs for social-emotional support, making school counselors, school psychologists, and other mental health professionals a crucial need in the academic environment.
With the current climate of education and the unforeseeable consequences of reopening schools, schooling will inevitably change in the future. These possibilities may enhance learning and create new options for some students while creating barriers for others. Regardless of what changes schools face, working together as a team will help your child adjust to any new transitions.
Emily currently lives in Orange County, California after spending four years in Illinois and half a year teaching in Florence, Italy. She holds a B.A. in English Literature from Knox College and an M.A. in Counseling from the University of San Diego and has taught English to native speakers and ESL students for over three years. When she’s not working as a School Counselor or writing, she enjoys traveling the world, playing instruments, and blogging about Millennial experiences at Long Live the Twenties.