The past two years have been disruptive for education, to say the least. When the pandemic first hit, an estimated 1.9 billion children around the world, suddenly, could no longer attend school. In the blink of an eye, schools had to revisit their technology policies, upskill their staff, and re-think every aspect of teaching, learning and reporting. At the coalface, teachers had to learn to juggle a multitude of learning platforms, video conferencing tools and a plethora of new apps. This is on top of finding time and new ways to support and motivate students.
However, this disruption has proven a great catalyst for change. In 2020 and 2021, we’ve seen innovations, revised practices and new approaches that could permanently change education for the better.
So, what can we look forward to in 2022?
Here are our predictions on three positive trends that are going to stick around.
Prediction 1: Better use of educational technology
When schools first closed, most teachers had to scramble to lay their hands on as many online resources as humanly possible. Online worksheets, language-learning apps, maths programmes, online reading libraries. Whatever was accessible quickly.
In many cases, this was overwhelming for teachers, students and parents alike. But it did mean a turbo-charged period of tech upskilling for teachers. And now, as the dust settles, schools have the chance to re-evaluate how they are using educational technology in their classrooms.
Most schools are in a period of consolidation, looking to re-work their edtech tools into sustainable programmes that truly enhance teaching and learning. Schools are stripping back the apps, accounts and programmes that don’t add real value, and increasingly seeking to replace them with ‘all in one’ solutions like Education Perfect which offers support for all major subject areas.
Schools are using these tools to elevate teachers, not replace them. By selecting tools that help with differentiation and reduce teacher marking and planning loads, this frees up teachers to do more of what they do best – teach.
In 2022 and beyond, we’ll see schools employing edtech judiciously to support personalised learning, ensuring every child can get the support they need.
Prediction 2: A greater focus on well-being
COVID-19 helped teach us all that students’ well-being is as important as supporting their learning. It quickly became apparent during the pandemic that unhappy, anxious or stressed students can’t learn.
Many schools around the world were already emphasising a focus on the ‘whole child’ and the importance of supporting well-being alongside academic progress. In recent years, we’ve seen a gradual introduction of new, well-being-focused roles into middle and senior leadership teams, to further support existing pastoral roles, like Heads of House and Form Tutors.
The pandemic forced schools to ramp up efforts on the well-being front like never before.
When they were fully online, schools responded to students’ emotional needs as best they could. Additional drop-in teacher ‘office hours’, lunchtime ‘chill and chat’ sessions and fully off-screen afternoons (or even days) started to trickle into the remote learning timetables.
Many ran workshops for parents on how to support students’ well-being at home and how to guide their children through times of change, worry and uncertainty. Most schools also placed a genuine emphasis on a child’s happiness over their academic ‘output’ during such a disruptive period, to the relief of parents and students alike.
It is fantastic that this has become the norm now. We can expect to see ‘translated’, in-person versions of these practices remain in schools, alongside a greater emphasis on (and support for) our children’s mental health, as we head into 2022 and beyond.
This can only be a good thing for our children.
Prediction 3: More parental involvement
I don’t know about you, but as a parent, I was never more involved in my children’s learning than during the extended school closures. Having to sit by my daughter’s side and help her with her maths, her writing and her art gave me a window into her strengths and weaknesses and helped me better understand what she might be like in the classroom.
This is an experience shared by millions of parents around the world. We’ve had to work as a team with our child’s teachers, communicate and cooperate and support each other in a way that is unprecedented. We’ve gone through this together.
In 2022, we’ll see more engagement from parents in their child’s learning – an increased interest in what their children are doing, and perhaps even more of a willingness to get involved. From schools, we can expect to see more parent-focused workshops, increased communication and easier-to-attend information nights and parent-teacher conferences.
Plenty of academic research shows, without doubt, that parental engagement and strong home-school partnerships have a very positive impact on learners. So, while there are many aspects of remote learning I think we’ll all be delighted to put aside, these strengthened parent-teacher relationships are a tremendous silver lining.
Helen Prior has spent the last 14 years in education, 12 of those in teaching and leadership roles in top-performing schools in New Zealand, Dubai, Hong Kong and Malaysia. Helen has particular interests in curriculum design, change management and collaborative leadership. Underpinning all of this is a passion for student-focused decision making across all aspects of education.
Education Perfect is a complete digital teaching and learning toolkit that has become a core part of the practice of thousands of teachers across the world. Developed over a 10-year period, EP is used by over a 1 million students, 50,000+ teachers, and in 3,000+ schools across 50 countries.