Questions and actions to guide the planning of teaching and learning for a school closure

When thinking about how your school wants to approach teaching and learning in the event of a school closure, it is important to be asking the right questions and undertaking the most beneficial actions.

The ideas below have been adapted from a resource developed by the US-based organization Instructional Partners. It does not provide answers, but rather helps senior leaders to ensure that they are covering all the necessary areas in their planning. Schools should base their planning on information gathered regarding the level of access of students and staff to internet and devices at home.

Learning and Instruction

Key Questions

  • What is the key learning  across the different curriculum areas in the coming months?
  • What learning do we most value and will we prioritise over the coming time period?
  • Which of our current materials or programmes – virtual or printed – could support students’ continued learning in these priority areas when working remotely?
  • What are the implications of shifting our delivery model for leaders, teachers, parents and students?
  • What technical support do we need to set up and provide for our chosen instructional model (e.g. online, analogue or hybrid)?
  • What resources will teachers need if they are expected to work from home? (i.e. teaching resources, passwords, student roster information, learning tools such as flip charts and markers)

Actions

  • Review current teaching plans and identify key learning priorities for the rest of the year
  • Inventory and review all existing online programs and online intervention resources
  • Gather feedback from teachers around existing online programmes on quality and usability
  • Identify what teachers, students, leaders, and families will need to know and be able to do for this model to work effectively.
  • Begin creating plans to shift instruction to your chosen model (online, analogue, hybrid), including clear expectations for teacher preparation of lessons, all curricular and tech system needs, teacher and leader professional development needs, daily schedule of instruction, processes for managing student learning, and parent expectations.
  • Set up all necessary technology to support your model.
    • For example, what would it require to post new lessons to a learning management system every day?
    • Identify all material and resources that teachers will need if they are working from home (i.e. curricular resources/hard copies of lesson plans, passwords, and student roster information, even flip charts and markers), and prepare packets that teachers could take home if school closes
  • Test and pilot your chosen approach

Clarifying roles and responsibilities

  • What are the roles and responsibilities for leaders, teachers, and non-instructional staff in supporting student learning?
  • What are parents’ roles and responsibilities for supporting instruction?
  • How are you communicating these roles and responsibilities and ensuring everyone is prepared to fulfil them?

Actions

  • Determine which students are most instructionally vulnerable and define clear roles and responsibilities across the system for supporting those students.
  • Consider the guidance for key responsibilities. Prioritise accountability to student learning and wellbeing, particularly for those students who are instructionally vulnerable.

Communicate with students, parents, teachers and leaders

  • What are our existing communications structures for use with families?
  • How are families currently engaging with communications?
  • Are the existing structures effective?
  • What do we need to communicate to students, parents, teachers, and leaders?
  • What will our schedule of ongoing communication be?

Actions

  • Draft initial external communications for family and community to use in case of an emergency school closure.
  • Consider creating an online platform where the community can go to access to COVID-19 updates.
  • Inventory all existing communications structures for use with families (e.g. learning management systems, phone/text emergency chains, website links, Twitter, email) and review how many families are currently signed up for use.
  • Determine which of your existing communication channels you are going to use for teaching and learning (it’s best to just pick one and be consistent with it).
  • Ensure that all members of your community know and are able to use your chosen communication channel.
  • If possible, set up and test existing communications structures for a heavy increase in frequency and specificity.
  • Set up class rosters and tech support to make this level of communication possible.
  • Establish expectations for teacher access to families and students and ensure that all families have multiple contact options for teachers.
  • Communicate roles and responsibilities for teachers, leaders, and parents in supporting student learning and wellbeing.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr Nina Hood

Nina is responsible for the strategic direction and day-to-day operations of The Education Hub. She is a trained secondary school teacher, and taught at Epsom Girls Grammar and Mt Roskill Grammar in Auckland. She undertook an MSc (with distinction) in learning and technology, and a DPhil in Education at the University of Oxford. Since returning to New Zealand in mid-2015, Nina has been employed as a lecturer at the Faculty of Education at the University of Auckland, where she specialises in new technologies in education.