At the beginning of the year, I was invited by Ana Bertha Quirós, friend and prominent member of Ashoka Perú, to participate in a meeting of a team made up of educational leaders called EDvolution CV. Virtual Coffee. The speaker on this occasion was Isy Faingold, UNICEF Chief of Education Section in the Philippines, an expert in educational policy with a Master's degree from Princeton University and former Headmaster of secondary education at MINEDU. A fairly young teacher who raised the theme "The student as a protagonist in the new normal." It was very interesting to see the pandemic topic centered on the student.
A curious fact that this man mentioned was that UNICEF has an agreement with Tik Tok to use this medium to send important messages to young people; which means that if you want to connect with young people, you must think like them, with them and for them. Therefore, he suggested that every educator should have a mentor under the age of 30 to help us think like them and listen directly to him.
Another way to find out how young people think is through surveys. UNICEF conducted a survey in the Philippines in which it asked schoolchildren how they feel at the moment, 56% answered that they are worried, 18% are scared and 16% are fine. These responses in turn reflect how young people around the world feel, as they live the same situation of uncertainty. When they delved deeper to see what generated those responses, students said that they were afraid of getting sick, that their parents and relatives would get sick, that they needed physical activity, live interaction with their companions, they wanted to return to their routines and also that they needed psychological and emotional support services.
Isy led us to reflect on what this Covid world is telling us and it reveals the importance of adaptability. Today men realize how little capacity we have to predict the future, for which the ability of resilience and adaptability become very important skills to preserve mental balance and lower anxiety. At these times is where mental problems such as depression, among others, are exacerbated.
We need skills such as time management (to do jobs, attend video calls, read, do research, etc.) creativity, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, digital skills alongside intellectual skills, etc.
From school, it is important to destigmatize the error and take it as an opportunity for learning, exploration and action. You cannot expect to wait to get out of school to use the skills that they have developed over 11 years, they must be worked on and developed together, experienced from implementation, day by day.
Meaningful learning design is student-centered, not teacher-centered; which consists of helping them to be the protagonists of their own learning. To achieve this purpose, it is necessary to develop socio-emotional skills in students, which will make it easy to develop cognitive skills as well, since it is scientifically proven that they are closely related. Developing emotional skills has a great impact on student behavior; it has been proven that drug use, teenage pregnancies, among others, are reduced.
Students need to be convinced that intelligence can change, improve and develop and that it is not that each one came with a static divine gift; only then will your capabilities really improve.
Learning is not the most important thing, developing skills to solve problems from school, from home supported by parents and from the community working together at home and school, is; for which it is necessary to maintain constant communication with parents. Education is a team task and nowadays, parents (who were not prepared for this), must assume a role of support of the cognitive processes of their children at home, in addition to their roles as workers; therefore, they deserve the support and monitoring of the school. It is up to us to seek creative and collaborative solutions with them.
Teachers must work to incorporate educational processes from virtuality. When we create the learning sessions we must promote situations of cognitive dissonance, of conflict, so that it is attractive and challenging for the students and so that relevant cognitive processes are achieved. Therefore, it is vital that they are participants in the creation of projects and have the option to propose topics so that they are based on their interests and thus involve and inspire each other.
Another important aspect is to motivate the students to lead themselves and be agents of change. Teachers then should not tell them what to do, for it to be sustainable, teachers must generate the necessary conditions for leaders to emerge, for students to assume their leading role and develop all their skills. We must empower young people, strive to understand how they learn and what they want to learn, promote peer learning, develop listening, learn to explore the digital world, move forward together with them and generate citizen awareness by letting them choose community problems to give them solutions from its possibilities.
The teacher is responsible for accompanying these processes, giving them tools to be assessed, but not only at the cognitive level but also to evaluate their soft skills, their socio-emotional dimension and the skills related to the development of thought. Getting each student to know and believe in himself is our challenge as teachers. But first of all, teachers and families must know that the priority is their well-being and that they must not lack emotional support.
By Janice Roeder - School Principal