I tell you what, I really thought the apocolypse was going to be a lot more exciting. So far it’s just meant extra paperwork and preparation for school. As someone who grew up on a steady diet of Stephen King novels and subversive 90s television I feel utterly lied to.

I think the very first question I have is: Why is it so bad for kids to have some time off away from studies, why try and maintain to regular schedules? I’d say this especially with our junior students. I would argue that there are perfectly acceptable ways to subvert the structured and separated nature of our school structures where strands of knowledge are are so independent of one another. Why not give some projects that could be completed independently?

But like, what ev’s. A disease has signaled the end times. I’ve read the Stand a billion times, I’m prepped to follow Randall Flagg to glory – choose a side. This might be my chance to rebuild society into my utopia.

Schools everywhere are shutting their doors

“Social distancing” is the word of the day. A phrase that brings to my teacher mind the problem of school dances but this time we’re about flattening the curve. To do this we’re looking at social distance (please don’t confuse this with isolation) and a way to help achieve this is to close the gates of schools and move to a #RemoteLearning model of education.

As we move to a model of schooling for either a few weeks or possibly a much longer period why not take the chance to reassess the mode of content delivery. One thing that I’ve been thinking on is how different the quality online MOOCs and distance education I’ve had in the past compared to the poor quality distance Ed. It strikes me that inauthentic learning can be forced in a classroom. You can bully students into engagement when they’re infront of you, but distance pedagogy is different. Engagement needs to be real or students will NOT be able to maintain engagement. The most effective MOOCs/distance learning that I’ve been involved with have all moved to producing something. Making a THING. Or simply, Project Based Learning.

As we look down the barrel at this it’s important that we do this properly because this might take a while. But to do that Teachers need something.

But what do we want? Time

Please school Admin, allow time for staff to prep. The tweets I’m seeing are showing staff are if lucky been given a half day, two periods or just buckle under and get it set up on top of regular work. That’s not only not good enough for our staff and staff well-being, our students deserve better.

D. Flipped learning teachers have an advantage here for sure (or any teachers involved in blended learning) but note that is a blended model, schools and districts are talking about essentially building MOOCs. My experience in setting up flipped learning units, working with Edrolo and the workload that I’ve seen described in setting up MOOCs for open universities are all intense undertakings. While we’re looking at teachers to provide smaller versions of this – it could drag on, getting it set up well early will be important. Also, listen to your staff. You absolutely (regardless of the school) have talented and experienced teachers in all sorts of areas. Reach out, have them feel involved and have some ownership.

The workload in this will be immense if admin expect work to be delivered in a similar level to what it currently is. If you can knock up similar quality of work in a couple of hours for all your classes then I question the quality of what’s being delivered normally. Teachers will be asked (as they should) to plan and modify their curriculum to fit a new model. This is going to come with so many challenges, challenges that I know my science department, the well-being team that I head and myself are actually really excited to tackle. I assume that most teachers are in a similar place. This could be a really exciting chance to stretch ourselves. However, if it gets pressurised beyond a reasonable point, that eagerness will be the first thing to go. It will become drudgery and teachers will resort to old worksheets and the simplest acceptable method of getting the content out there.

Look, if the apocalypse does come make sure you throw some Tom Waits into your End Times Playlist:

Thanks for reading and throw any thoughts or tips you have for preparing for the educational apocalypse in the comments below.

Just remember stay shiny Pony Boy and always ask What Would Buffy Do?

Pete Whiting

@mr_van_w