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Learning Together in Times of Uncertainty

By Kristen MacConnell, Director of the Teacher Training Center Programs with the PTC
Learning Together in Times of Uncertainty

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash. International school teachers and leaders have had to be innovative problem solvers since international schools opened their doors. Working overseas comes with both a sense of excitement and uncertainty. You never know what might happen to disrupt student learning. Between the quickly spreading Coronavirus and civil unrest during the 2019-2020 school year, many schools in Asia and a growing number of schools in Europe have had to shift to short-term online learning to keep students, faculty, and families safe. Additionally, schools in other regions of the world are preparing to make that same shift should COVID-19 spread and/or civil unrest occur in their region. Thousands of teachers are teaching online for the first time and many students are experiencing formal online learning for the first time. With this shift, both teachers and students are facing unexpected challenges. Teachers and school leaders from international schools in China, Hong Kong, Vietnam and South Korea have shared some of those challenges with us: • Maintaining a personal connection with students and colleagues • Maintaining a personal connection amongst classmates • Managing Workload for both teachers (planning) and students’ learning (especially secondary students who have multiple teachers) • Meeting the diverse learning needs of all learners • Accessing Learning- some students and teachers are now in different time zones from each other due to being out of the country when COVID-19 reached high alert; limited access to proxy servers which may limit access to online platforms, apps, and other resources; limited access to devices- particularly for younger learners; unstable internet connections for some students • Providing quality feedback for learning to all students • Developing new technology skills for teachers such as screencasting, making instructional videos, etc. • Understanding what age-appropriate online learning might look like for younger learners • Enhancing parent partnerships in learning and maintaining communication with parents • Maintaining student engagement for learning • Creating a healthy balance between learning and screen time • Supporting student and teacher wellbeing in a time of isolation and uncertainty One of the best things we can do as educators, as we push our teaching boundaries in service of student learning, is to rely on each other by sharing ideas and resources. There are schools who have been closed since mid-January as well as teachers who do have experience with online teaching. We can learn from each other to do what’s best for student learning. Here are several groups you can join to share ideas and resources, specifically for international school educators, that focus on online learning: Facebook Page: Online Teaching for International School Teachers Facebook Page: International Schools Information Technology Leaders and Digital Coaches If you are on Twitter or LinkedIn try these hashtags: #virtuallearning #onlinelearning #virtualschool #internationalschools #covid19 #coronoavirus These websites have useful information: ISS Online Learning Global Online Academy, New Programming IB Coronavirus Updates Justin Ouellette's Wakelet Resources Kristen MacConnell is Director of the Teacher Training Center Programs with the PTC.

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