Leaders and teachers are feeling stressed and worried about hybrid learning solutions. Yesterday a secondary Principal was quoted: “hybrid learning is not sustainable because teachers cannot teach in the classroom and online at the same time.” This needs to be debunked. He doesn’t mean that hybrid learning is unsustainable, he means that the school does not yet understand what hybrid learning can be. Hybrid learning is more than a camera in the classroom, it is not teaching in the classroom and streaming it online. It is a way to organize and accelerate both learning and engagement both at school and at home by offering learning that can be accessed from anywhere. And it is sustainable.
Why is it not at the same time?
If learning materials are offered online for students to pick and choose from or tackle on their own with the teacher guiding them from the side (through predetermined coaching sessions), the student can continue to access learning regardless of physical place. The only thing that will be happening at the same time is students driving their own learning at home and at school.
I remember checking in with students just before lockdown and asking if they were ok.”It’s ok, the learning looks the same. We are fine.” We are used to working like this.
Imagine if every student could feel that confident? Learning can be accessed from home, from anywhere and doesn’t need to be anchored to a school building or timetable.
What about class time?
Teacher time should be about connection and collaboration. If face to face students need to connect and receive support, some students might be invited in for a small group hui. If students at home want to connect, the teacher can still connect with them in class because the classroom kids are also working online. Home learning should not be passive witnessing of a live class from the back (home) seats.
What is the major shift?
The major shift is de-fronting the classroom. The teacher is not the source of information nor are they the only source of what to do next. Lessons can be a rich curation of materials for learners to graze content from. Coaching can be one on one or in small groups depending on need.
Effective hybrid learning can be organized with a handful of simple systems. What do we need? Serve learning materials, arrange coaching checkpoints, monitor wellbeing. These three things are all that is needed to drive planning. Read them again: serve materials, arrange coaching check wellbeing.
Easy fix: Folders of resources that are clearly labelled. Do this. Check in. Then this. (Use your LMS).
1. Publish all content somewhere clearly for students to access when they need it.
2. Publish a google form to capture what students are working on and what they need help with (to help you to schedule coaching).
3. Communicate your communication strategy. I will check in daily at 9am. I will check in with you weekly at 2pm thursday. Map and publish your schedule so students know when you are available.
4. Use the spreadsheet at the back end of the google form to plan your resources and responses for individual needs over the week.
5. Check in with students for real time connections. Monitor wellbeing with regular connection check-ins.
Is that it?
Hybrid learning can be a responsive system that actually frees up teacher time. If the learning is all online, even when face to face, then the role of the teacher is just checking that everyone has the right content, that no one is stuck and that everyone is feeling ok. Like a scurrying waiter in a busy restaurant topping up water and clearing plates, all students can continue learning knowing that they are fully supported, checked on and topped up.
I have noticed that students who are normally quiet and not particularly interactive or confident in a face to face setting actually respond really well to the individualized ‘pull learning’ and ‘get help when needed’ online hybrid approach.
One quiet student became like more like a penpal. We talked about what we were working on and talked far more about her learning than we ever did in class.
A google form for capturing work flow also asked them about their happy tank (wellbeing capture), what they are working on, what’s going well, what’s not going so well and what they need from me. I gave them ‘long paragraph’ answers so they could share as much or as little as they needed each week/each day. I caught up with some low students for an impromptu cheer up check in. The face to face time is about connection.
What did the form capture?
The google form 5 min stand up, though lean in format, allowed me to chase up low feelings, target the kids who could not articulate what they were working on, eliminate stuck points and extend kids who were cruising. It also allowed me to notice patterns, amend resources, recommend collaboration groupings and monitor flow. All of the work they were doing was recorded on one page/sheet for me to be responsive to.
Do you spend all the time teaching online?
No. Teacher time is planning, differentiating, serving, checking. Remember this is not the teacher as ‘sage on the stage’ – this is the teacher as a guide on the side or ‘coach on call’. You can even block time when you are unavailable (for planning and resource curation) and communicate that with your kid community too.
Teaching in class and zooming kids at home is not productive nor effective. It does not free teachers up to respond to individual learners.
Hybrid learning is not teaching kids in the classroom and kids at home at the same time. It is removing the barriers of space and time and liberating kids to learn anywhere, anytime with an expert coach on call that ‘sees’ them beyond the structures of school. So hybrid learning is sustainable, actually.