Nothing to see here…⤴

from @ lenabellina

In December I wrote a post about my achievements in 2020.

https://lenabellina.wordpress.com/2020/12/31/pride-after-a-fall-or-the-highs-and-lows-of-2020/

It was a bit cryptic and I made reference to a new piece of information that I had come upon that had helped me to understand myself a bit better.

I am now in a position to say that the information was a diagnosis of ADHD.

At 51 years old, I have finally found some more answers to my life-long feelings of “otherness” and restlessness.

After diagnosis, I wrote a letter to my closest friends explaining what I had found out and shared some of the reasons for me seeking diagnosis:

* the fact that I was very close to burning out, having tried to fit in and keep going over many years in spite of the immense effort of trying to manage and keep a lid on hyperactivity, poor focus regulation and impulsivity

* the fact that being 51, peri menopausal and in the middle of a pandemic seems to have massively diminished the efficacy of my coping mechanisms, honed over 5 decades….

* the fact that, after years of soul-searching, talking, writing and trying to fix myself, there was still a part of my jigsaw missing.

If you are interested, this is the best summing up of what I have been living that I have read. The lost girls: ‘Chaotic and curious, women with ADHD all have missed red flags that haunt us’ | Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder | The Guardian

And this has been astonishingly enlightening. https://www.additudemag.com/secrets-of-the-adhd-brain/

Of course, me being me, I immediately thought that I would need to “get on and write a book about it”, or at least add yet another Postscript to my other book to help other people in my situation. But actually, this diagnosis isn’t about me helping other people. Yet, at any rate. It is about me helping me, and accepting help from others, to understand what I can do to improve the quality of my life, albeit at a more advanced age than might have been ideal.

In fact, looking back myself at my book, with the knowledge I now have, I can see that it makes very good sense as a record of an undiagnosed woman with ADHD who was trying to progress along a journey of self-discovery without the right map.

And as I read this, now, with the benefit of hindsight, I really wonder why a penny didn’t drop sooner: http://www.pedagoo.org/wellbeing-15-16-teacher5adayslowchat-scotedchat/

Fortunately for me and everyone else, I don’t need to write the book in any case as, in a slightly spooky parallel universe way, an amazing woman called Emma Mahony has already written it. I mean, she claims it is about her, a Modern Languages teacher who sought diagnosis at 51, after a life full of incredible achievements but also blighted by constantly being at odds with the world….but she has done a pretty damn good job at writing about my experiences, without ever having met me.

Emma’s book is my new bible, along with a range of other sites she recommends. I would strongly recommend it to anyone with an interest in knowing more. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Better-Late-Than-Never-Understand/dp/1789561949

So for now, I am not writing a book. I am not trying to save the world. I am not trying to blame everyone else or just keep trying harder.

I am learning to accept that my brain doesn’t work in quite the same way as most people’s. I am also coming to understand that, with that, comes challenges but also great possibilities.

I am slowly and cautiously accepting that the Story of My Self from now on is the story of having both a hidden disability and a superpower. Maybe when I feel a bit more at ease with this, I will write more, do more, advocate more. Or maybe not. Maybe I will just live for a bit.

In the meantime, here’s a playlist of songs that help me to make sense of it. https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3Kv3z4a5bBtywBEtL7dWct?si=udMhonMqQdaceOBMUcFb9Q

And if you need to find the songs on another platform, here they are:

Sharing to Teams on iOS puzzle⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

Channels in Team, screenshot
I’ve got a Team for my class with several channels. When I share to Teams from an iOS app (keynote, whatever) I can search for the Team and it shows me a list of channels. All except one.

Channels in iOS share sheet
Channels in iOS share sheet

Which just happens to be the one I want my class to share into.

I can’t seem to see anything in that channel setting that are different.

That channel also will not allow another member of staff to reply or post. Even though she is an owner of the team. Weird.

Learning about home learning⤴

from

This week I’ve cried. I’ve felt elated when tech worked. I’ve felt overwhelmed. I’ve felt proud of myself. I’ve felt exhausted. I’ve laughed. I’ve met up virtually with colleagues. I’ve seen smiles on some of my S4’s faces for the first time in months! I’ve worried. I’ve connected with new people. I’ve been inspired. I’ve stayed up late. I’ve fallen asleep. I’ve given my own kids way too much much screen time. I’ve learned lots. Mostly by making mistakes.

But I’ve kept going because of our young people. And connecting with them to help, support or feedback makes it all worthwhile. So what are my takeaways from this week?

1. Structure works. Structure of lessons. Structure of tasks. Structure of instructions. Structure within the week. I think my own boys, and my learners respond best when we provide that structure for them.

2. Work smarter not harder. I’m trying hard to make sure the resources I’m spending time making, last longer than lockdown. Focussing on the threshold concepts, pedagogy and skills and making videos or voiceover powerpoints which can be used year after year makes investing qthe time worthwhile. Avoiding mentioning specific information which may change (SQA assessment etc) and instead instructional coaching of the knowledge, skills and process which will support pupils. The key subject knowledge and skills which will always remain important.

3. At the start of this week’s lesson, I asked learners what would make home learning better. Feedback from my learners was that they would like more quizzes and more live lessons. I’m pleased that the habit of retrieval practice in class, has been useful to them and they recognise how useful the testing effect is. Whilst part of me feels flattered that they appreciate our time online together, part of me wonders if there’s another reason they would rather attend a live lesson than go off and work independently. Is it because it’s easier to sit and listen to me than having to go off and discipline themselves to think hard? With this in mind, my lessons this week have attempted to get pupils working harder than me. Lessons involved cold calling pupils to give responses in the chat, asking pupils to unmic to answer, voting for answers using symbols in the chat, incorporating Menti tasks to build wordclouds and collaboration on tasks which make them think. So this week I’m going to try more of this. And some brief support check-ins at the start of periods to connect and set pupils off on task with a view to scaffold their independent learning before leaving them to work on their own.

3. A toddler entering a live lesson asking to go ‘pee pee’ sometimes is more of an icebreaker than any game! And I think my pupils appreciated this visible act of being human. I hope it put them at ease. I’ve accepted that my own kids will join in with lessons, or meetings. They are being ignored and left to their own devices so much that when they do need cry out for attention, I’m going to try my best ‘to see them’ and give them what they need. And not beat myself up about it like I did last time round.

4. I have the best colleagues. When we’ve been unable to nip back and forth into each other’s classrooms as we do in person, the chat function on teams has allowed us to ask those silly questions and check things with each other easily. Everyone has just got on with our new way of working with a smile. Our online meetings are a chance to laugh and share a cuppa whilst supporting each other and working through issues together. On Friday afternoon after a tough day, I literally hugged my laptop when I heard the voice of my work bestie – and after a chat with her felt so much better. On Friday night a group of colleagues met on Zoom to laugh and it was exactly what I needed. It’s very easy to become an island during this whole period of lockdown. And with that isolation brings uncertainty, lack of perspective and worry. Connection is key.

5. This is a marathon not a sprint. We need to look after, and pace ourselves. Wellbeing is absolutely vital if we are to be the best for our young people. And it’s important that we encourage them to do likewise. The lines between work and home have blurred significantly. It’s been too easy to work through lunchtime or keep working late into the night. I’m going to try harder this week with boundaries. I need to get outside more. I need to set aside some time for me to read, watch tv or switch off.

Have a great week everyone – remember my mantra. ‘We can only do what we can do.’ And that is enough. You are enough.

Bring your own device for learning or bringing learning to your device?⤴

from

Maybe it’s just the time of year, maybe it’s just the context of this year, maybe it’s just a sign of age, but I am finding myself getting more and more nostalgic as various online services “pop up” reminders of what I was doing at this time, last year, 2, 4 ,5, 7 years ago. This time last year I was still travelling across the country to run workshops . . .

Over the last few days I’ve been getting reminders of #BYOD4L (Bring your own device for learning). This was a week long open “event” for staff, students and the brain child of Chrissi Nerantzi, Sue Beckingham and David Hopkins. Along with Alex Spiers and Neil Withnell, I was part of the facilitation team that took over from the original team.

BYOD4L was always a brought a bit of focus and fun to gloomy January’s past. The structure of the event was based around the 5 c’s – connecting, communicating, curating, collaborating and creating. Each day focused on one of the “c’s”, and there were daily tweet chats each evening. Lots of us used the flexibility and open-ness of the concept to run face to face sessions (remember them?) in our institutions. It gave a focus to bring people together to share the ways they used technology in their learning and teaching.

It was also a really fantastic way to introduce people to twitter and connect to a ready made learning network. It was exhausting to facilitate but always great fun, and for me, a really positive learning experience. It was also a great incentive for writing blog posts!

Although BYOD4L was largely online, it enabled so many different face to face interactions. It was also predicated on the context that the majority of staff and students were travelling to campus, and so bringing their devices to those physical locations. Students and staff were accessing their “stuff” on the bus/train/car/tube where ever, as well as on campus/in class/in the library/in the refectory etc. But now, we’re all at home (or maybe in halls of residence, or maybe with very limited time on campus), so it’s not so much a case of bringing your own device for learning, rather bringing learning to your own device (BYOD2L instead of BYOD4L). That’s a subtle but important change of emphasis. And of course, access to “your own” device isn’t a given. The last year has certainly highlighted the digital divide around access to devices. Not all students (or teachers) have a laptop/computer/device that they can use, or afford the data allowance to engage with online learning. Having a mobile phone is one thing, but their limitations for learning have been well and truly exposed. We still can’t assume that they everyone has unlimited online access.

Over the last year a huge amount has been done by everyone in terms of moving to online learning and teaching and providing access to equipment and data. Back in the day, there were a core of #BYOD4L-ers who might have been seen as “outsiders” from the norm, as they were interested, and more importantly using technology actively in their learning and teaching and sharing that practice openly.

Looking back a the BYOD4L model, it still holds up. So I wonder if there is an opportunity to revisit it and use it as a way to focus on reflecting on what has happened over the last 10 months and help us focus on what should be our priorities (based on actual practice) for the foreseeable future? Although the event was designed with staff and students in mind, getting students involved was always a challenge and one I never managed to crack. But I think that might be different now, I think that this could provide a focus for student/staff engagement that is relevant to our current context.

This needs a lot more thought, but I’d love to know what you think.

Teams behaved a bit better today⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

Teams behaved a bit better today. I got nearly the whole class in. I found that when pupil could not get access inviting them to join the call nearly all worked. This failed for one pupil.

Teams seems to use a lot of resources, a fair bit of beachballing and my fan started when searching for pupils to call in. I presume that Teams being an electron app and uses a lot of resources.

Glad I’ve got a small class, pulling in 33 one by one would be tedious.

On another positive note joining the meet with computer and iPad and then sharing screen with iPad continued to work well. I even manage to show the class team on the iPad screen in the meeting which was handy for explaining things. This is much better, I might even try PowerPoint again if things continue to improve. 1

Teams still seems a bit, what my class calls, laggy. Some pupils had difficulty uploading files to assignments. I found even small images were slow to post.

On a side note the Education Scotland – status page is nice

1. Things improved last lockdown when I had: Simpler Meets

Lockdown 2 day 1⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

Lockdown 2 day 1

Well we didn’t get off to a great start.

Working from home today.

I’d set out a light weeks program in a blog post for the pupils and emailed the parents. In both post and email I’d try to make it clear we were trying to really get every pupil involved from the start.

Planned our first Team meeting for 2pm as that was the same time we used in the first lockdown.

Teams seemed to get off to a bad start across the country.

A number of schools, pupils and parents have reported the technology running slowly or not at all.

This didn’t cause me as much problems as some. I upload most of the files I want the pupils to use to the class blog. I figure this avoids password problems. Also Teams slowdown.

It did seem to cause problems in our meeting. Only about half the pupils managed to get on. The others could access Teams but not get onto the meeting. Hard to know if this was related to the reported problem or not. It was certainly frustrating seeing the messages from the class repeatedly trying to get in.

Worth noting that I joined the meeting on my mac and iPad. The iPad on mute and used as a screen share. This has improved a lot since the first lockdown. Joining on the iPad second it gave me a choice to swap to it or join without audio. The latter let me share the iPad screen, and from what I could tell it was not to laggy (as the pupils say). Laterally in the first lockdown I abandoned screen sharing or using PowerPoint and just share files in the chat as we had a pretty bad experience. This gives me hope for an improved experience.

Back to the digital classroom⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

From tomorrow I’ll be back in the digital classroom. I can’t say I’m very happy about it. For all my love of technology I much prefer the real classroom.

I’ve been reviewing my previous lockdown experience, I continue to find reading my old blog posts useful.  Also interesting to see what happened in the first week of term last session.

Last time I felt I spent very little time learning new stuff or seeing what other people were doing. As I recall my head was down. I believed that I cut out social media pretty much. I just had a look at my 2020 twitter stats:

And was surprised to see I was wrong about that.

It feel like there is a lot more pressure on this time round. I think, as teachers, we put enough pressure on ourselves, not sure the idea of teachers, schools and LAs having to produce data to justify themselves is a great idea. I gathered my own last time, and held myself to account  blogged about it, that felt tough enough.

I certainly hope that whoever tries to hold us to account understands the situation, the amount of prep needed to teach online, whether preparing for a live lesson or creating asynchronous ones.

Re: How do we prevent the next generation from being so utterly misinformed?⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

Replied to a tweet by Blair Minchin (Twitter)

How do we reason with people like this?

How do we prevent the next generation from being so utterly misinformed?

Urgent questions we need to address as a society and as educators...but remote learning takes a lot of time to put together so need to park this for now 😂😥 pic.twitter.com/PckIWiIik1

A good place to learn about detecting online disinformation is @holden’s site Hapgood. Aimed at undergraduates it would be great for teachers to help our own understanding.

How this translates into secondary and primary education I don’t know. In primary I’ve used the Save The Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus site. Used to use Mozzila’s long gone hackasaurus to fake web pages to add pupils to BBC webpages. I find it hard to move pupils off the goole search results to an actual site, never mind comparing two.

Technology seem to be making things increasingly easy for us while hiding the possibilities of developing real digital understanding…

It’s not what we do, it’s the way that we do it.⤴

from

This has been a really strange first week of term, and that’s saying something considering back in August I thought it couldn’t get much weirder. But this week, all across the country, teachers have been working hard to prepare for home learning which will begin on Monday. It’s been a challenge, and many have understandably felt overwhelmed. It’s been really important to support each other and throughout the week I’ve seen nothing but examples of teams coming together, collaborating and just getting on with it in order to support our learners. I think it’s safe to say that this is going to be a long haul – we’ve been fortunate to have had three full days to prepare unlike many colleagues south of the border. So as we approach the beginning of home learning, I thought it might be useful to reflect on some of the research and evidence which I’ve been using to inform my approach for the weeks ahead. I fully anticipate making tweaks to my plans, as I reflect on the reality. But I’m sharing these ideas in the hope that it might be of use to someone else. Most of my approaches have come about as a result of reading the EEF’s research summary on remote learning which can be found here.

As well as this, we also consulted learners in our department about what worked for them during the previous lockdown, and will continue to survey their opinions about how things are going over the coming weeks to hear what we can do to help, support and improve things.

As always, the dichotomy of my values is never far from my thoughts. There often seems to be, unnecessarily in my opinion, an either/or situation in education. Strict or soft. Attainment or achievement. Nurture or exam results. Academic or vocational. Live or recorded. Synchronous or asynchronous. Contrary to what others believe, for me personally, these can exist alongside each other and indeed I believe it is important that they do. My high expectations and desire to deliver quality home learning experiences which pupils are expected to engage with, is positioned absolutely parallel to my need for empathy and compassion in the difficulties our young people and their families will face over the coming weeks. I find it almost impossible to separate the two as they are so intrinsically connected in my vision as to what education should be. Therefore, I feel it’s important to acknowledge the steps forward we have taken since March when we found ourself in this same situation, such as increased device provision and staff/pupil digital training in anticipation of another period of remote learning. Nonetheless I believe it’s important to recognise that there will still be difficulties. Yes we have increased expectations and things should be better than in March, but it goes without saying that there will be challenges. So here are my

There has been much debate this week about live vs recorded lessons. PowerPoint versus Sway. Google classroom as opposed to Microsoft teams. But in line with my thinking, the evidence suggests that the important part is the actual learning itself not whether the lesson is synchronous or asynchronous.

“Pedagogy trumps the medium. That’s the case whether teaching is live or pre-recorded or a mix of both” Simon Cox

We know that teachers all teach in different ways, so it’s only natural that each person will have a preference for what works best for them. And that may change depending on the content being covered and the context . But what’s important is that we are still using the features of effective pedagogy to make our pupils think. With that in mind, I’ve tried to ensure that I’m providing high quality tasks which are linked to the learning which pupils will cover as part of our art and design curriculum. Try not to be seduced by gimmicks or apps which may well look good to share on social media Yes we’ve had to adapt lessons and outcomes due to limited resources at home but what matters is that the task features modelling, checking for understanding, opportunities to practice and feedback. For anyone concerned about their digital skills, please hold on to the fact you are great teacher. You know your stuff and it’s no different on a digital platform. Yes there will be aspects which you will be unfamiliar with, but you are still the subject expert at what you are teaching. Take confidence from that – your pupils most definitely do.

Just as you wouldn’t overload pupils’ working memory with instructions in class, remember tasks issued online should be clear and simple too. Avoid the temptation to over complicate lessons with power-points full of text, information and graphics. Remember many of our young people may be viewing these on a small screen such as a phone, so keep it simple. Use bullet points to keep instructions short and to the point. It can be tempting to signpost young people to lots of different supports, but I would suggest drip-feeding these as needed to avoid young people feeling overwhelmed. After noticing his tweet about the impact of instructions, I have been reading about front loading in Adam Boxer’s blogpost here. He explains a front-loading instruction… ‘where you put your Means of Participation or whatever at the front of your instruction, where you anticipate the point at which a student might stop listening to you and thinking about something else (like the answer to the question) and get all the important information in before that point.’ Rather than giving them a video link, (which they will click on and rush off to watch without knowing what their focus is) then explaining you want them to look for three points about X, try swapping it over. Give the link last then they know what they’ve to look for before navigating to the resource. It’s something to bear in mind and I’ve found this really useful this week when scheduling tasks for pupils. I’m more mindful of the placement and order of the instruction, ensuring the way in which they should complete the task ie on paper, digitally, or on Kahoot all comes before the specific task or question.

For me relationships are absolutely key. But this goes way beyond the interactions that we will make online this week. Yes it will be important to check in with our young people online and give them support, conversation and let them know that we are there for them in the coming weeks. However, I would argue that the ground work for this has already been laid in the months leading to this. Many teachers are worried about how learners will engage in home learning. Whilst there are many factors which will impact this, in my opinion, if you have already built up a strong positive relationship with young people, they will be far more likely to make the effort to participate. The mutual trust and respect you have grown with them since August allows them to feel connected and safe in this new online environment, secure in the knowledge that you will be there for them. You will hopefully have built in the intrinsic motivation for learning which will be the catalyst for their home learning experience. During the first lockdown I listened to the wonderful Richard Gerver on the ‘Becoming Educated’ podcast and he spoke about considering what we want our learners to be able to do when we aren’t around. I found this really useful to consider during our time in school from August and it very much helped shaped my learning and teaching to ensure I was giving young people the knowledge and skills to be able to work successfully under their own initiative. The more we have worked to create confident, independent learners in school, the more likely they will be to cope when we aren’t right beside them in the classroom.

So assuming we have had some engagement with young people on the online platform, I think it is so important to ensure, as we would in the physical classroom, that we feedback on this. For this to be effective, pupils need to know that we will look at their work and comment on it so they can get better. As we would in class, feedback is more effective when given at the time or soon after the task so bear this in mind. And whilst it might not be possible to give instant teacher feedback on submissions, I would suggest that self-marking quizzes, quick chat comments and praise all go some way in encouraging the pupil to keep going. Pupils then know they are on the right track giving them the confidence to continue. The sooner specific teacher feedback is given the sooner the pupil knows we are invested in them working at home and the clearer the feedback, the more they will be able to move forward.

Opportunities for checking in and class interaction are important too. Learners will be missing their friends and the social side of school so I will try to build in activities which encourage discussion (breakout rooms in MS teams is good for this ) or collaborative activities encouraging pupils to share learning and peer assess work (shared documents which pupils can type in simultaneously and Padlet are both great.) Live lessons will not simply be me talking at pupils for the session. I will use the chat function to cold call pupils checking for understanding, model tasks, and integrate apps such as polls and Mentimeter to survey pupils and quiz their knowledge.

Since March, hundreds of devices have been issued to our pupils to ensure they have an ICT platform to engage in home learning. Last lockdown we became incredibly inventive about home learning tasks which used objects found around the home as we were mindful that many young people, just like us teachers, were limited with resources. In a practical subject such as art and design, that can prove difficult but using cereal boxes, loo rolls and nature made for creative outcomes. This session we were a bit more prepared. In October we issued all our seniors with a pack of drawing materials to keep at home as a precaution. It’s so important that young people have what they need to continue with their folio work. They won’t have us there beside them, so having the appropriate materials helps tremendously and relieves a little bit of stress for them instead of improvising.

And finally, the most important point. Every pupil, every teacher and every circumstance is different – flexibility and compassion is key in making this work. We understand that this will be challenging, so being human and admitting this to our learners goes some way to reassuring them that we are all in a difficult situation. Knowing our pupils, and being proactive in the support we offer will also be important. Doug lemov talks about ‘dissolving the screen’ in his book Teaching in the online classroom I think it’s important that we find ways of breaking down the limits of remote learning. Small things like face to face videos help build connection or playing music as pupils enter live lessons helps soothe the teenage brain before engaging on what can be overwhelming and uncomfortable. Reassuring learners that cameras and microphones can be switched off and encouraging pupils to interact via chat will go a long way to building confidence – remember pupils are masters of texting and WhatsApp. As their confidence builds, you can increase expectation of asking them to speak out. Again you know your pupils best, bearing in mind their challenges and finding ways to overcome these, are your superpower as a teacher. Monitoring interaction, checking in personally with families and ensuring that we offer support and understanding rather than punishment or consequences is far more likely to encourage families to persevere.

Look how far we’ve come since March 20th 2020. No other profession has undergone such extreme and complex change in such a short space of time. We can do this, because we always do. Be good to yourself, don’t ruminate when it doesn’t go to plan – it won’t all work out the way we hoped. Reach out to others – they will get you through. And remember we can only do what we can do.

Have a great week everyone – you have got this.

Should we though…..?⤴

from @ lenabellina

So, this week, I returned to my substantive post in a leadership team in a Scottish high school. One of my first task was to assist with the coordination of our learning offer now that we are in another lockdown.

We only have to look at Twitter or listen to the news to witness a vast array of amazingly creative solutions, opinions and criticism in relation to the challenges of providing education at this time.

Because I like to turn to simplicity when things are complicated and overwhelming, I have returned to the question of purpose in reflecting on where we need to focus our energies and time over the next weeks and months.

What am I doing in my role of educator just now and why?

What is the purpose of our collective activity as educators:

● Safety and saving lives – emergency measures (suspension of “normal” education delivery)

● Learning – ensuring that learning is continuing

● Wellbeing, routine, structure, avoiding overwhelm and providing re-assurance

● Visibility (safeguarding)

● Maintaining relationships

In my reflections, I have taken “educators” to encompass all adults in the life of a child, as duty bearers who are doing their best to address article 29 of the UNCRC:

Article 29 (goals of education)

Education must develop every child’s personality, talents and abilities to the full. It must encourage the child’s respect for human rights, as well as respect for their parents, their own and other cultures, and the environment.

More than ever, the African proverb that talks of taking a village to raise a child is pertinent as we ask parents and carers to work closely alongside us to achieve the best in education that we can, given the current restrictions.

During the last lockdown and at a time when schools had much less capacity to interact with children and families within their own homes, I made daily videos to try and help parents and carers who were suddenly faced with the task of being home educators. Perhaps some of the messages are still pertinent now:

https://youtu.be/nFTx16cXm0o

As we are now in the second major UK wide lockdown, there is much to be gained from looking back to the last one and seeing what we learned then:

● At school level – from the data collected (pupil, parent/carer and staff feedback / observations during and after lockdown as to where children were in their learning)

● At National level

https://education.gov.scot/improvement/learning-resources/global-responses-to-learning-at-home/

Independent Children’s Rights Impact Assessment on the Response to Covid-19 in Scotland

What went well, what did not go so well and what could be even better this time?

Of course, what we are attempting just now is an exercise in differentiation par excellence.

But whereas we usually think about the need to differentiate according the varying needs of the learners in front of us in a classroom, this time, we as strategic leaders have an exercise in differentiation that relates to the highly differing circumstances of ALL involved; we need a quality of knowing what is possible for each individual and their current capacity.

This means we need to consider three distinct groups.

Firstly, we have our pupils, with their diverse needs and circumstances, as exemplified in the following fictional examples:

Pupil A – all the tech needed, own room, one parent available to help;

Pupil B – as above but looking after a 3 year old sister as both parents are working;

Pupil C – no tech because the laptop ordered was not delivered, no parent or carer at home and a 3 year old sister to look after;

Pupil D – non-verbal, attends a specialist provision where bespoke tech is used that cannot be sent home.

We then have a range of parent/carer educators:

Parent/carer A – a former teacher in a comfortable home with all the tech;

Parent/carer B – a single parent teacher who is entitled to childcare but also has a vulnerable parent living next door and in his support bubble;

Parent/carer C – a parent working from home, with a partner who is the same, not key workers and with three under fives in the house and pressure on devices and the wi-fi.

And then we have a range professional educators:

Teacher A – has all the tech, a laptop with VPN at home and all the skills to deliver whatever the digital platform can offer;

Teacher B – has a personal ipad and is relatively confident but also has very intermittent broadband and a partner who is off work with anxiety and depression due to COVID;

Teacher C – is autistic and anxious about using technology because it represents a big change, even though she has no reason to be because she is hugely competent.

So, having analysed the current needs of the people who we serve, how do we as school community leaders decide what is possible and what will enable us to exercise our duty of care to all of these groups?

The potential of technology is now huge and thanks to some very accessible training, staff have the opportunity to become competent and confident very quickly in delivering online. We also now (in Scotland) have clear national and local permissions, risk assessments and guidance to be able to do so.

But before we launch into 9 to 5 delivery of live lessons, we must consider the words spoken by Jeff Golfblum’s character in Jurassic Park (thanks to my friend Ish).

“Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

We also need to consider the potential that our actions and decisions, as responsible adults in positions of power, have the potential to do harm as well as good.

The best analysis of why need to proceed with caution is here, written by Mark Enser:

https://www.tes.com/news/coronavirus-schools-online-learning-are-live-lessons-really-better-recorded-ones

Let’s not rush. Let’s reconsider our purpose and the purpose of education, now as ever:

Knowing each child and young person within our care, resisting labels and using history to inform positively rather than label negatively; these must at the heart of what do in schools. This way, we will get the true measure of each child and be able to walk beside them as they develop their sense of self, their potential and their individuality.

(Original source: A quality of knowing. | lenabellina)