Based on original image by Ben Kolde on Unsplash

“Children are the priority. Change is the reality. Collaboration is the strategy.”

Judith Billings, Washington State Superintendent.

In the hybrid learning environment the walls of the classroom become far more permeable. The traditional boundaries between school and community are increasingly blurred and the reality that each learner is surrounded by a number of people who can and do support their learning is more evident.

Many educators have spent a life-time working alone and independently in their classrooms. In the hybrid world this must change. Teaching must become a more collaborative activity, involving teaching teams and partnerships with parents/whānau and other community members.

The old adage ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ has never been more true – nor more able to be realised through the enablement of digital technologies. We must be looking to how we can fully leverage the potential of partnerships at all levels, not simply for the convenience of supporting the learners/ākonga , but because of the ‘wisdom’ in the crowd, the expertise that is now able to be accessed and made available.

During the COVID lockdown successful schools reported strategies including teacher aides working with disengaged or at-risk students or for support staff to help free up time for teachers to support students. They also reported engaging more with:

  • Learning support co-ordinators
  • Resource teachers: learning and behaviour
  • Social workers
  • Counsellors

Many schools sought to strengthen learning-focused relationships with parents/whānau with strategies including:

  • Collaborative reporting on student progress
  • More frequent contact (phone, online)
  • Learning experiences based on home life
  • Parental involvement in student goal-setting

Thinking about partnerships more broadly brings to mind the extensive expertise and knowledge base that exists in our local and national communities, including:

The concept of partnerships can be thought of at a range of levels, including:

  • Community leaders, councils and politicians.
  • Business leaders, entrepreneurs, researchers etc.
  • Cultural leaders, kaumatua and kuia etc.
  • Community facilities – libraries, museums, sports hubs etc.

Building effective learning partnerships like this requires greater clarity in communication around expectations and how to provide support for learners/ākonga , and needs regular, ongoing and purposeful two-way communication.

Questions you could use to help identify the practices in your context that address equity include:

  • Who are the ‘partners’ you most often engage with as part of the design of a learning experience, e.g.
    • Parents/whānau
    • Community members
    • External ‘experts’
    • Educational support
    • Etc.
  • How are these people involved? What is the contribution they make to the learners/ākonga  directly?
    • What use to you make of facilities outside of school, e.g.
    • Community pool
    • Library
    • Museum
    • Etc.
  • What specific expectations do you have of parents/whānau in the learning process? How are they supported in this?

This post is one of a series of ten being published on this blog that are taken from the document “Codifying Teacher Practice”. This document has been written to provide educators with some guidance on how to approach the challenge of shifting their pedagogical approach as they embrace hybrid learning and includes templates and activity to help educators and leaders explore this in their own context. This paper follows two previous thought pieces relating to hybrid learning, both of which can be found on the FutureMakers website. If you’d like to receive an advance copy of this paper please email derek@futuremakers to have one emailed to you.

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