Monday is International Day of Education, and Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF) has highlighted what experts at QF say about education during Covid-19.
* Carolyn Mason Parker
Director, Qatar Academy Sidra
It has never been more important to respond to the needs of students in a dynamic and responsive way. Throughout the challenges of Covid, educators have been committed to ensure every child in our schools is able to experience a personal level of success. Whether we have been learning in a virtual environment or meeting in classrooms, students and teachers have continued to develop new skills and growth mindsets. Above all, we have all learned the importance of kindness and creating a safe haven where students and teachers can be the best they can be.
Moving forward, we know we can use the skills developed to continue to create personalised choices with a variety of modalities to ensure we continue to inspire and empower learners. Above all, we have learned that wellbeing is integral to educational success and must come first.
* Cynthia Bolton
Manager, Learning 365
What we’ve learned in the past two years is that education can and needs to happen spontaneously, organically and regardless of location. Learning isn’t the responsibility of one person, the classroom teacher, but the collective obligation of families, educational institutions and all members of the community. A child’s education isn’t the result of a carefully planned curriculum or learning outcomes, but the genuine and deliberate opportunity to explore the world around them and the provocation to tackle complex challenges.
Covid has given the educational community the opportunity and the catalyst to rethink traditional educational paradigms and respond purposefully and authentically to the needs of all learners.
* Jameel Ketaim al-Shammari
Director, Qatar Leadership Academy
Over the last two years, the world has witnessed many changes in the education process, the need to balance between classroom and online learning. It has also seen changes in the method of learning used by teachers. The Covid-19 pandemic has, therefore, brought change to the world of education and has highlighted the importance of adaptation in managing the way people learn, as well as the importance of supporting academic staff by providing them with the professional tools and training that will help them integrate the educational process with the psychological needs of the students. This plays a vital role in understanding just how hard these changes in the learning environment are for students, and how students can adapt to the pandemic and secure the academic achievements they are seeking.
The roles of parents, students and schools are integrated and complete each other, because together we are seeking and striving to eliminate educational challenges.
* Mehdi Benchaabane
Executive Director, Learning & Innovation
After almost two years since the Covid-19 outbreak, the world of preK-12 education seems to have given up to a cycle of normalised disruption, distance or blended learning and optimism for a return to in-school learning. One thing we have learned, is that by large, today’s students’ may be tech-savvy, but are still far from having developed the learning skills that allow them to be independent learners. We’ve also seen that education without relevant learning, drops significantly in value among the younger generation, when it is further deprived from social interactions.
As we celebrate the 2022 International Day of Education, I invite fellow leaders of learning to look the current challenge in the eye and start reviewing their agenda from a simple question “what purpose is there for OUR students to engage and commit?”. I believe the loss in learning that was caused by the disruption to school practices, will push leaders in education to adjust curricula, assessment targets and possibly engage in a more comprehensive reform. It will also encourage Ed-Tech companies to offer solutions to specific alternatives to traditional approaches to teaching and learning.
However, the only trends that are likely to sustain future disruptions will be the ones that focus on developing learning skills and key competencies from the early ages: equipping students with the ability to lead and manage their own learning, focusing on assessing conceptual understanding and co-constructing authentic learning experiences by engaging students and parents, will continue to be - in my view- the common feature of all successful educational frameworks and schools. The first step towards success will be to (re)define
the role of the teacher and invest in building leadership capacity.
* Maryam Hassan al-Hajri
The International Day of Education is upon us as we move back to online learning for the fourth time since the pandemic started, yet every time we go online, we are apprehensive in the beginning but this time we also realise how much we have developed since the first. Online learning is so powerful for both the learner and the educator if it’s aligned to the learner's interest and passion. This is one of the first lessons we learned as we embarked on this journey. We also learned that it's counterproductive to try to mimic what takes place face to face in school into the online learning space, it is a completely different space that needs a different strategy and approach, otherwise you miss out on all the potential of learning online and end up with more frustration than one would want.
I think we should harness all the learnings from our experience in online education to challenge our assumptions and progress our
educational programmes. I don’t think education should just go back to how it was pre-Covid. The flexibility, options and collaborative tools offered by online learning can greatly enhance outcomes, lifestyles and individualised programmes at a fundamental level.
I would caution, though, to not miss the ultimate intention of higher student engagement and participation and only focus on forcing everyone to learn in the same way due to technology limits or safety issues, the ultimate aim is to empower students, parents and educators and to offer many pathways to learning and working.
* Yara Darwish
Head of Learning Enrichment
Despite the complexities surrounding online learning, we have seen how the abrupt shift to a virtual environment has inadvertently strengthened parental involvement and has fostered the parent-school partnership that is a key pillar at QF schools. Online learning has challenged our schools to reflect on current learning practices, evaluate the impact of various online platforms, assess different learning
management systems and creatively engage with parents to support their children through an online learning environment.
* Imad H Deeb
Assistant Director, The Learning Center
The challenges that have faced education amid the Covid-19 pandemic have raised several basic questions to education systems. And one of these has been how to create a positive balance between academic requirements and the psychological and emotional stability of students and teachers over the past two years. We recognise that social interaction and communication is an essential element in the learning process, but the disruption we have seen due to the pandemic has called for blended or distance learning to be adopted, as well as the necessity of implementing physical distancing.
This necessitated additional, creative efforts from teachers and specialists to provide an effective learning environment. It is very important to recognise the special efforts teachers have made to respond to the challenges that they have been presented with to ensure the continuity of students’ education.
During the past two years, we have learned the importance of emotional balance for both teachers and students, and have recognised the importance of something that was provided even before the pandemic – interactive education. This aspect of education is essential to continuing the learning process and to building experience and skills. That is why the current situation is an opportunity to review our education methodologies and our ways of interacting with students. We have technology, but we also recognise the importance of an educational environment where the teacher, school colleagues and the school community have a key role in building a student’s personality – a balanced personality.
* Mark Hughes
Director, Awsaj Academy
In 2020, the world changed. Everybody’s world, our world, the world of international education. The coronavirus pandemic upended almost every aspect of school at once. It was not just the move from classrooms to computer screens. It tested basic ideas about instruction, attendance, testing, the role of technology and the human connections that hold it all together.
Two years later, a rethinking is under way, with a growing sense that some changes may last. This is an opportunity to reimagine what schools will look like. Things are changing around us in ways we have not seen before, and we are beginning to see ways to forge a different kind of relationship between students and learning, parents and teachers, school and the international community.
This is a moment to reimagine our futures together and to consider how education might move towards a model that offers students the very best of face-to-face learning augmented by the most effective use of varied technologies. This is about reimagining and reconstructing a model of education, which supports personalised learning development and embraces disruptive education.
Although Covid-19 posed many challenges, educators across the world have proved they resilient, adaptable and deeply committed to student learning. Let us find strength and inspiration in our connections to each other.
* Lulwa al-Darwish
Special Education Teacher, Renad Academy
This pandemic has forced us to make quick changes to ensure our students remain engaged in their learning. Both students and teachers since, have been expected to attend classes online and manage their way through many platforms. Distance learning, something that was in the past mostly available for adults pursuing further education is being implemented with our youngest learners today. Although
we have technology to thank for making this possible,we do need to know that not all learners respond to distance learning.
As a special education teacher working with children with autism, I expected to face challenges with this. However, at Renad Academy, we still provided virtual classrooms and online classes for our students and ensured the availability of home folders with physical resources available weekly.
Although this time was challenging, we were able to assist our parents and caregivers through it and managed to come out with positive outcomes with their collaboration. This made me realise the importance of trusting the time needed to adjust to any change. Even if it may have seemed impossible we found ways to make it possible!