With schools back after a year of disruption and unexpected change, due to Covid, we need to reflect on how we are teaching.
Due to the need for social distancing, we are seeing teachers fearful of encouraging the 4Cs, as previously these activities involved learners leaning together and doing project work.
Children are sitting in rows of desks and being told not to engage.
Let’s not ignore these now as we go back to a “new-normal” school, let’s think differently to keep developing these skills among our learners.
The six Cs are listed as: Creativity, Collaboration, Communication, Critical thinking, Citizenship and Connectedness
Citizenship and Connectedness are most important at this time, as we saw individuals, both learners and teachers struggling with social distancing and lack of engagement with peers.
Develop a pride in citizenship, and being responsible citizens. Treating each other with respect, being kind and considerate. These characteristics could be highlighted in the social-distanced classroom.
The importance of connectedness should also be addressed. In our modern society we think of connectivity and being connected via the internet. More importantly we should look at connectedness in terms of relationships, feeling valued and engaging meaningfully with others.
Children are again sitting in rows, team-work projects disappeared, sitting on the classroom carpet was not allowed. Think about how you can allow connectedness, feeling included and valued in your lessons, while still social-distancing.
Many teachers have gone back to very teacher-centred lessons, with whole class teaching.
Creativity: Since being back at school many teachers are saying - Creative lessons or tasks
are not assigned, as many of these in the past related to walking around or physically engaging with others, so now they are not considered. Group work is seen as children huddling together around a project, rather than children doing the same activity but individually or socially-distanced.
Find solutions to spark the creative flare in every lesson.
Drawing a picture on a spreadsheet using maths statements, or allowing painting as a group activity, the resources could move, or children could change desks.
Many classrooms have the cleaning resources in them, so if children sterilized the chair and table they were going to sit on, why can’t they move from workstation to workstation.
Critical Thinking: Listening to teachers, many of the tasks they now describe are lower-order
thinking tasks, and children are writing “knowledge and recall” answers in their books. The tasks are not extending into middle and higher order thinking! But it is all about the question - ask questions that spark creativity. The question can push the learner into higher order thinking! Encouraging thinking, and not just knowing, and so by promoting problem-solving, you are building perseverance and confidence in your learners as they struggle and eventually succeed.
Collaboration: Explore activities where learners can collaborate and engage. We can still be
socially distanced, we don’t have to be sitting right on top of each other to share ideas.
If we work on a digital document we don’t even need to be in the same room. Use these resources for learners to share ideas, peer review each other’s work and learn to provide constructive feedback. Teach learners how collaborative tools benefit them to understand digital sharing and online engagement. In class, allow discussion and debate as before - you can be sitting away from each other and still collaborating and sharing ideas.
Communication: Communication both verbally and written is important and traditionally has been the crux of school. This is where we learn to read and write. To say speeches. As teachers we need to ensure our learners are writing well, know spelling and grammar. Think of fun tasks to do to develop these skills across the grades. So when they work on a digital environment the knowledge of writing is already in place. Just as being creative and collaborating are important, to communicate effectively in a digital environment is vital. For example, if an email has an error in it, it won’t reach the recipient.
Develop proud national and global citizens, who feel connected emotionally and soci
ally, not just digitally. Ensure you are building in the other 4Cs - Creativity, Collaboration, Communication, Critical thinking - into all your lessons, empowering learners to be strong, adaptable and confident as they move along their learning journeys.