It’s been a summer holiday like no other. The normal end-of-term high-fever, staff BBQ and fond farewells to colleagues and pupils did not happen due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, the start of the vacation blurred awkwardly into the end-of-term as many teachers already found themselves at home following the closure of school sites on March 12th and 20th in Ireland and the UK respectively.
However, contrary to popular opinion, school closures did not spell an early summer holiday for teachers. Rather, for many it signified the start of a remarkable process in which ‘normal’ classroom traditions, customs and practices were turned on their heads. Miraculously, many schools were able to quickly develop and deploy exciting and innovative plans to ensure learning was not lost and students were able to continue to learn whilst at home. Furthermore, those schools that already had established digital learning programmes found themselves at a significant advantage as both students and teachers had the necessary hardware and pre-existing digital skills to make a smooth transition to remote teaching and learning.
I have already blogged about how the RGS Worcester Family of Schools managed to successfully conduct remote schooling but we were not alone in our ability to provide an almost full timetable and co-curricular programme during lockdown. Many other schools within the Apple Distinguished School Community were also able to use their existing infrastructure, hardware and digital culture to ensure high quality learning provision was able to continue.
Towards the end-of-term, a number of those Apple Distinguished Schools put their heads together to compile a digital publication that captures those ideas, practices and stories that emerged from COVID-19 and the need to implement new ways of learning and teaching remotely. Educators and leaders from schools, colleges and universities within the UK and Ireland Apple Distinguished Schools programme have collaborated to share aspects of how they’ve used Apple technology to support learning at home. They also share examples of what they’ve learned, successful practices and ideas for what teaching and learning with technology might look like as a ‘new normal’ when school returns in September and offer a myriad of different possibilities from which we can all learn as we prepare as best we can for an uncertain future.