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5 Things to Look for in a school during COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has not only shaken the world’s economies and health systems, it has also affected the world’s educational institutions. Schools from all over the world initiated closures and implemented continuity plans that were prepared in just a few days. In a matter of weeks, teachers and school administrators  went on the internet and social media groups to find out more about what alternatives are available to them to enable them to continue teaching from home. Parents suddenly found themselves more aware of what type of schoolwork their children have to deal with on a daily basis. 

As the pandemic spread, the idea of a “new normal” began to emerge. In the Philippines, particularly, schools are not allowed to open for face-to-face instruction until a vaccine is found. This can be a long way away, and so all schools must now transition to online delivery of classes. 

Because of this development, parents now have the responsibility to choose the school that will best benefit their child’s future learning. Here are some of the most important things to look for in making that choice:

1. INSTRUCTIONAL METHODOLOGY

Teaching methodologies were not created equal, and some of them are more suited to online lesson delivery more than others. Even with video meeting tools being available, the experience cannot be replicated exactly the same as when a teacher is physically in the same room as the students. 

Look for schools that have had a history of classroom flipping. This means that teachers assign classwork that has to be prepared for by the student beforehand, such as reading chapters in a book, watching a video, or reviewing a few links and sites. The session with the teacher now sees a change from teacher to a facilitator as discussions are done around the assigned material. This develops student agency and responsibility and will allow the child to be more adaptable to an online learning environment.

Schools that have been employing a learning-by-doing methodology is also apt and ready for online delivery of classes. This progressive and project-based learning approach promotes self-learning. The students are not expected to have face-to-face video meetings with the teacher all the time, and so a certain degree of self-learning is required. The traditional spoon-fed approach cannot survive in a mostly online class.

2. TECHNOLOGY USAGE

Many businesses were affected by the pandemic, halting operations and requiring a transition to work-from-home, but it’s been very good for the online applications used for meetings like Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams. It has also given rise to more usage of classroom and learning management systems like Google Classroom, Canvas, Schoology and Moodle. For example, from approx. 80 million, the number of users in Google Classroom rose to 700 million worldwide. 

Look for schools that use technologies that are open and web-based. This means that as a parent, you don’t have to pay for additional software licenses or additional software to be installed on your child’s computer. Using open software will cut down costs without sacrificing the quality of learning. Some parents are looking for schools that are giving paper or printed alternatives to online technologies. Unfortunately, learning done this way is going backwards instead of forward. We have to remember that the students in our schools right now are Generation Z and Generation Alpha (children of millenials), and both these generations were born in a world where the internet already exists. Cutting the internet out of their learning, reduces their ability to prepare for a future that will most likely have problems that have not existed yet.

3. INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN & QUALITY

The way that a school’s curriculum is laid out is very important. Make sure that the curriculum itself encourages creativity and independence from your child as these are critical skills that they can take with them throughout their lifetime. 

The design of the curriculum is also important to ensure quality. Do all teachers of the same subject and grade level deliver courses the same way? Of course not. But are there standards followed by every teacher to ensure that no child gets left behind and every class meets the quality of education set by the school? If this is a yes, then you can be assured that regardless of the teacher, the standard of education is met. This is true even before COVID-19 and should not change with the new normal.

4. LIFE SKILLS & WORKFORCE PREPARATION

If there is one thing that the pandemic has made clear, it is that life skills should take a front row seat in the classroom of the future. Sometimes when a school moves to a mostly online environment, life skills takes a backseat. This means that the child will be inert in front of their computer and not be able to do certain skills required to survive independently and be a contributing member of society. Ensure that the curriculum provided by the school gives the child ample time to create projects that do not require them to sit in front of a computer all day. 

It is also important that for older children, that are  in secondary school, that the skills they learn will help prepare them for the workforce. Good communication skills, a degree of vocational development as well as leadership and independence skills should be part of what the school aims to leave the students with.

5. DIGITAL CITIZENSHIP AND ONLINE SAFETY

Because your child will be mostly left alone to study with their classmates or their teacher, you may have concerns about their privacy and safety online. Make sure that the school has a digital citizenship backgrounder and training for your child that you can also join in as a parent.

This will teach the child and yourself the measures that will keep them smart, safe, and kind online. Your child will be mostly on the internet and their safety is a priority, and the value of good citizenship in the classroom cannot be understated.

This will also teach the child to practice critical thinking, learn how to protect their information, and have good privacy habits. The proper use of technology will help your child learn better, and is an important step towards ensuring that all students learn, explore, and have a positive experience online.

Parents should consider these 5 things when choosing the right school for their child because they might be paying a lot for their private schools that are not meeting these essential factors that make a school adapt well to these uncertain times. 

Now that your child will be learning from home, the school you will choose will have a huge impact to ensure their continuous learning and this decision must be taken with a more informed and critical eye. 

APEC Schools is here to meet the demands of this online transition. With our dedicated team of teachers and instructional designers, you can be assured that your child’s learning will continue even during the crisis, and at a quality that is expected of  a future-ready classroom.

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