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Wait, Is This the Pandemic’s Doing?

written by Anne-Marie Rapo

The global pandemic brought about changes which were much needed in the world of education. Such skills as adapting to new tools and technology and finding innovative and creative ways to work more efficiently in the digital environment have needed development for both the students and the teachers for some time. The pandemic has pushed us all to fast-track our IT skills and become more creative within the virtual world. It has resulted in teachers and administrators becoming more flexible improving the wellbeing of everyone.

Educational experts have been in a tight dance trying to persuade teachers and administrators to adapt to the use of video conferencing tools and utilize online classrooms where students and teachers can create, upload and share their work and interact with each other. It has been hard to show a need. Then Covid-19 hit and created a situation where it was necessary to rethink how classes were conducted. Using online tools enabled staff to continue to conduct their lessons, assign work and provide feedback much in the same way as before. Teachers quickly learned new ways of working which many felt they had not been trained to do but found that they could build their confidence and change their mindset, spur creativity and innovative problem solving.

Students and teachers alike have enjoyed sleeping in in the mornings as they have not had to leave the house to make it in time for their first lesson. I’m sure many a first lesson was attended in a less formal attire – pyjamas – with the cameras firmly turned off. Teachers too, have made the most of the same privilege and embraced the half hour’s extra sleep and a fresh cup of warm brew in their hand while delivering the first lesson of the day from the comfort of their favorite armchair.

Gone are likewise the long waits for staff or parent meetings to begin in the afternoon or evening, as teachers have been able to leave home early and attend meetings from home.

This has no doubt had a positive impact on staff well-being. Moreover, parents have appreciated the flexibility that the video-conferencing software has enabled: adding efficiency to meetings and allowing them to attend school meetings and events when before they were not able to because of work. 

Apart from the technological, the pandemic increased the level of both student and teacher self-reliance. The pandemic fostered student autonomy and compelled students to practice self-regulation, learning to control how much time they spend on their device on something not related to their school work. People pulled together unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. The help, the support, smiles and kind words made sure everyone was on board. Wait, is this the pandemic’s doing?

The pandemic resulted in the largest ‘online movement’ of the information age. We all agree that the pandemic has had an adverse impact on the education for many, but it has also had some positive effects. Time will only tell if these effects take hold and bring on permanent change. 

Anne-Marie Rapo-pieni

Ms. Rapo (Master of Education) is currently working as the Principal of a Finnish international, comprehensive English-language school in the Helsinki metropolitan area. Earlier in her career, she worked as a primary, middle school, and high school teacher, an education planner, and a mentor teacher. Besides her extensive experience of Finnish basic education and upper secondary education curricula, she has gained new insights by working as a teacher in a French state school and as a principal of an IB world school. She is a popular presenter on Finnish education and has held numerous workshops and presentations for education ministries as well as international school administrators and teachers. Anne-Marie holds a Master of Arts degree in modern languages from the University of Helsinki, Finland.

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