While it is a little early to presume that we can speak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the past tense, we have heard much talk in the last few months about “returning to normal”. This, of course, began in the aftermath of the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic/quarantine. Specifically, this talk began after the discovery and availability of a vaccine.
Others are asking if we should be so quick to return to “normal”, asking us to reflect and re-evaluate our lifestyles, and choose to which parts of “normal” we wish to return. On a personal level, we may ask ourselves if renting a movie at home is more comfortable than visiting a movie theater? Is family game night something we wish to continue? Will we keep cooking more at home, vs. eating out?
On a professional level, we must also ask similar questions. Is working from home productive, or do we need to return to the office? Are the cost savings of virtual meetings vs. onsite meetings worth the loss of engagement we may incur?
The field of education is not immune from this examination. While we would all likely agree that most students benefit from the traditional school setting, there are exceptions. Some students and teachers alike excel in a remote environment. Even those who need onsite connection may still have found elements of success in the virtual/hybrid setting.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has been catastrophic, as educators, we must view this as an opportunity to re-evaluate traditional instruction. In the past year, what has worked well? Where do we need to improve? Are some of our students and teachers thriving in a virtual/hybrid environment? What should continue, even as we return to “normal” in re-opening our schools? Answering these and other questions encourages us to truly incorporate the best of both worlds when re-designing instruction for our students.