There is now doubt that this past year has created a tidal wave of change in education.
Alyson Klein's February 18 EdWeek article "The Pandemic is Shaking Up the World" is the latest in a rash of articles and blog posts and Twitter conversations that proclaim the changes that the pandemic has wrought. We all wonder--often excitedly--about how our experiences of the past year will shift how we "do education" as a country.
But what about the shadow-side of that same question: What happens when COVID is no longer a driving force for change in education?
I have to be honest; as an administrator whose role focuses heavily on designing and delivering professional development, I have reveled in the enormous surge in motivation for professional learning over the past year. I have watched with relief as some of the 21st century strategies and practices that were so hard to establish pre-COVID have become daily routine simply because they had to. Edtech tools are being used more consistently and creatively than ever before. Curriculum and lessons and assessments are being redesigned, often for the better. Faculty who were extremely resistant to change have become more open to new ideas and practices.
The optimist in me believes that this marks a moment of educational revival; that we will truly re-think and re-design many of our practices and systems that have previously been untouchable.
But I worry that this could so easily be a temporary phenomenon. We are only human, and such fast-paced growth is exhausting. Educators have lived in survival mode for nearly 12 months; we've had scant time for the reflection needed to make openness to growth a more permanent habit. And as soon as the external pressures created by a pandemic reduce or disappear, it would be so easy for educators around the country to breathe a sigh of relief, disengage, and fall back into the old familiar, comfortable patterns they have relied on for years.
I can't bear to see that happen--not when we've come so far.
So educators, let's make ourselves a promise. Let's make time before the end of this year to reflect with purpose. Let's review, evaluate, imagine, and commit to continuing the design work that we were thrown into this year. Let's remind ourselves of what our students will likely experience in their college and professional lives, and make sure we prepare them for it. COVID might have triggered change, but let's put ourselves back behind the wheel and make this journey worth it.