Learning and Working in Schools

Most recently, as part of my work leading a large and complex preschool to post school setting, I have been engaged with other thought leaders about the staffing and roles required for our context within the rapidly changing world. In doing so, I have considered this question continuum produced by the OECD about the future of schooling.

The OECD have also produced 4 scenarios for future schooling.

The four scenarios are fascinating and they provoke us us to think more broadly about the future of learning. For example, it might one day become mainstream for most if not all schools where we see:

  • The use of efficient technology, flexible timetables and complementary pedagogies resulting in more flexible class times occasionally delivered later into the day or evening for students in Years 9-12.
  • Increasingly using outsourced providers to co-plan, co-teach, and co-evaluate new metrics learning which acknowledges the teaching and assessment of the general capabilities and enterprise skills. 
  • An expansion of flipped learning acknowledged as part of indicative mandated hours meaning less face to face teaching and more blended approaches.

It may be that we need to consider aspects of hybrid learning by Global Online Academy.

All of these new ways of learning have implications for new ways of working.

Whilst considering the above in the context of student learning and staff working in schools, there are many system and school leaders within Australia and across the world thinking about the future of education. Some have reflected about preparing for a post-Covid world and the changes they wish to keep. Whilst it may be argued that our localised state and national response to pandemic schooling has lacked the creativity and courage to act with ‘the fierce urgency of the now’ – I mean, what’s changed? – there are examples of schools and their communities who have discovered a sense of agility that cannot be wound back. As such…

“… we’re also going to see families want flexibility in what ‘going to school’ means at different times of year. Instead of homeschooling, they’re going to want to keep their students enrolled in school while they engage online from wherever they may be. Schools will need to offer programming that allows for more flexible access.” 

From Eight Predictions for Education in 2021 by Michael Nachbar

With an eye on senior secondary schooling and the possibilities that come with reduced need for face to face hours for student learning, there needs to be consideration given to more flexibility for teachers and support staff. Across a number of industries and workplaces there continues to be considerable reflection about work productivity. These include reinvesting commute time, being more productive at meetings, and better work/life balance for employees. Such realisations confirm the findings of a 2013 Stanford University study which found home working led to a 13% performance increase. More recently, a 2020 survey conducted by a Californian company during Covid-19 showed a 47% increase in work productivity. There is enough evidence which confirms that Working From Home Increases Productivity.

Therefore, in a school setting there could be consideration for: 

  • Late start or early finishes for teachers of secondary students.
  • Increased planning time for teachers of younger students because there is more play time and less ‘drill’ time.
  • Leaders working from home one day a fortnight on a rotational basis.
  • Senior support staff whose roles work predominantly uses online platforms technology could access those same online platforms from home.

We know that change has arrived and we now have to initiate new ways of learning and working.

As always, comments and questions are more than welcome.