Across the world, educational continuity has been a challenge over the past year. Even if certain peculiarities are specific to each region and the sanitary measures have not been the same everywhere, the answers and the findings are very similar.
The Regional Digital Delegation for Education (DRNE) of the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region, in France, recently held a seminar for its school executives about pedagogical continuity. The event was an opportunity to hear the testimony of school leaders from Spain, Egypt and Côte d'Ivoire. The École branchée was also invited to share the Quebec experience.
If, at the start of the pandemic, all the school teams lost their footing a little, it appears that they finally found new benchmarks in order to get through the crisis, while ensuring the best possible services to the students. At the Lycée Français International Molière in Madrid, Spain, the three watchwords were: reassure, organize and communicate.
During her presentation, Valérie Servisolle, the principal of the school, compared the school administrators to ship captains who have used three tools extensively during the last year: oil for the fluidity of communications, a welding machine for strengthen teamwork and a generator to recharge the batteries of those who were experiencing times of exhaustion. Of course, his presentation was meant to be figurative, but it expresses well the situation experienced in educational establishments.
Speaking of her role as principal, she quoted General de Villers: "You have to be an absorber of concern and a diffuser of confidence".
Chain the re-entries
In Egypt, Philippe Bidet, principal of the Balzac high school in Cairo, joked (but not quite) that he had experienced at least eight start-ups during the 2020-2021 school year. In short, his team has also chained the teaching models (distance, hybrid, presence) on numerous occasions.
This period was nevertheless "a vector of creativity and flexibility". It also made it possible to rethink communications in the school, in addition to simplifying links with parents. “Today, we are no longer in survival mode. We are in the perpetuation of new practices, ”he said.
Beware of overload
For his part, Jean-Claude Meunier-Lariotte, principal of the Jean Mermoz international high school in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, also had an eventful school year. If in our country access to the Internet was sometimes an issue for families, in its part of the country, frequent power cuts are the cause of many concerns for digital education.
“Teachers express an 'overdose' of digital,” he said. Nevertheless, everyone is aware that digital technology must be included in educational practices today. Likewise, he is delighted that “the essentials of active pedagogy are finally being put forward”. Mr. Meunier now believes that "professional development will become a lever to find the balance" between new practices linked to digital technology and the need for disconnection expressed by some.
Now that the crisis is subsiding, the next challenges identified by the panelists are as follows:
- support for students with special needs and the necessary differentiation in teaching;
- the need to rethink evaluation;
- maintaining acquired knowledge in terms of communication, within teams and with parents.
At the end of the discussions, it emerged that benevolence, communication and collaboration have never been so present in schools around the world. Everyone was also of the opinion that we have witnessed an incredible rise in skills during the last one, and that this will have marked the end of resistance to digital technology.
“The world of education had its nose in the handlebars. We must now look beyond. The walls of the school are melting, ”concluded Nathalie Bécoulet, the regional digital delegate for education in the Burgundy-Franche-Comté academic region.