In a COVID-19 resurgence requiring schools, kura or wharekura to close, principals/leaders will inform their teachers about:
- the plans for learning to continue
- what resources tamariki will be provided with and how they’ll be distributed
- keeping in contact with tamariki
- communicating with parents/whānau/caregivers about how their tamariki will learn from home and what they can to do to help.
Information and guidance for schools, kura and wharekura during a COVID-19 resurgence is on the Ministry of Education website, Advice for Schools/Kura page.
Guidance and supports for delivering hybrid models of learning
Schools across New Zealand are adopting hybrid learning to ensure continuity of learning during COVID-19 disruptions. Hybrid learning also offers opportunities for future-focused curriculum, teaching and learning. The guide below can help you plan for hybrid learning in your school.
Hybrid learning 2022
For additional insights on planning for hybrid learning models, watch this interview Keeping students learning with a hybrid approach with Derek Wenmoth and Dr Lesley Murrihy.
Transcript for Interview with Derek Wenmoth
Lesley Murrihy, Ministry of Education
Kia ora Derek, ngā mihi nui o te tau hou Pākēha. Lovely to see you again, and I hope that you had a great break over the holidays
Derek Wenmoth, Futuremakers. nz
Yeah Kia ora, yes, tēnā koe, Lesley. I certainly had a good break and it's allowed me time to refresh and think a lot about what the year ahead has in store for us.
I'm really glad to hear that. In December, you published a paper about resilience planning for schools, which was really well received and generated lots of discussion and actually, some concern as people realized there was something about 2022 that is likely to be very different from the last two years of school closures. I certainly found the paper very interesting and actually also very useful, so thank you for writing it. We're going to explore some aspects of that paper today. Can you please begin by telling us a little more about what you think is likely to be different about schooling in 2022 and what you mean by resilience, and then why you think resilience planning is essential.
Whoa, there’s a triple banger. Well look, I think Lesley, the motivation for that paper came in the latter part of last year when I was reading the material from the Ministry of Health, from the World Health Organization, from different kind of modelling agencies that were looking at the sorts of futures that we might face. Plus, I'm in fairly regular contact with colleagues in the States and Australia, particularly where they have been experiencing the sorts of things that we're looking down the track at here in New Zealand, and I felt that there were some fairly clear direction, some fairly clear picture of the sorts of things we may face. Uh, here in New Zealand that I I didn't feel were quite landing in the way that they might with a lot of our leaders and I guess the reason that I chose to talk about building resilient schools in the title rather than just calling it hybrid learning was for me this is about a much broader vision that we need to gather for our schools about what will make us be able to continue to operate as a provider of learning experiences and all that goes with that, you know the relationships, the well-being all that sort of thing. What will enable us in our schooling system to continue that when we are continually kind of confronted with things like we are at the moment with COVID. But as I mentioned in there, I went through this with the Christchurch earthquakes. We've had floods. We've had other weather events and things. This is not a unique, well it's unique in terms of the pandemic, I think, in terms of the qualities that it brings, but the idea of being confronted with times when we can no longer operate in that traditional place-based paradigm of school is not unique and my personal feeling is that we are, we need to act in a way that is long term view. It's a sustainable thing, not a knee jerk, “How can we just get through the next month or two and then we'll get back to normal” 'cos there is no such thing as normal any longer. We learned that after the Christchurch earthquakes as well. So that's where resilience to me comes and it's about building those qualities of resilience into the system, and that’s a lot about what my paper addresses, but as a consequence of that it is also about building the qualities of resilience into the people, into the students, into the staff and into the parents and whānau that we're looking after. So that's why resilience is there. Then the other part of the question you asked me then so what's going to be different?
I think, uh, it's not a popular view and it's not a view that we naturally take on board because it's quite challenging, but I think this is going to be an even more turbulent year than the last two years. Over the last two years, it's been pretty rugged, but, uh, the consequence of lockdowns meant that we were pretty much faced with a binary choice as educators. We had, we had times when our schools were open, and students could come face to face. Now different conditions existed then. Sometimes, you know we had to have students or staff wearing masks until they got into classrooms, we had socially distanced classrooms, we had a lot of those things, but it was operating, everybody was operating in that environment or not. Or they were operating out of school, primarily at home. And so we engaged approaches and strategies and tactics drawn out of the discipline of distance education, drawn out of the disciplines of online learning and so forth. And we applied those as we attempted to provide for a continuity of learning experience and connection with the teachers and the students at home. What's going to be different about this year is that we're not proposing any lockdown situations. What we are proposing is a continuity to the extent that it is possible of the normal things that we do in everyday life, which includes schools. So a start point for everyone is to think right, how do we open schools so that it's safe and that it it can work with students and parents and whānau. So I was at a school just yesterday on a teacher only day. They had done a brilliant job thinking that through and following the advice of School Trustees, for example, the Ministry and others, but they they hadn't really began to think as is thoroughly as I would think they should do, about what's going to happen for the students who are unable to attend school because either they have got locked down or they're sorry they have covid or they are forced to self isolate because another family member is a case. So for me what I don't think is really being realized here is the implications when we start talking about self isolation because it's not as if we can say “Oh well that class is going to be away for the next 10 or 14 days while they all self isolate”. It's going to be individuals within every class and it's going to be happening in an entirely unpredictable manner, in a rolling way. And it means that if a student is in a family say with 5, 6, 7 siblings, then even the health ministry’s data suggests that that could take anywhere up to 14 weeks or more for them to be in self isolation because the requirement to stay in isolation until the last member of the family has had a clearance, right, and then your 10 days on top of it. But in terms of the impact on schools, then coming back to your question, what's different about next year? We're going to see entirely unpredictable levels of students coming and going in terms of their ability to attend in person or being required to be at home. But the story of course, doesn't stop there because exactly the same applies to teachers, and I find that that's a forgotten part of the conversation in many of the conversations that I've been having. So what happens when a teacher needs to go into self isolation? What happens in the extreme event when all of the staff have been meeting for a planning meeting after school in the staff room observing social distancing and mask wearing, but one of them is revealed as a COVID case. They all have to self isolate, the entire school now is left without anyone able to operate in person and these are the scenarios that I don't feel have been sufficiently explored or had conversations about and so forth. And so all of that led me in the thinking that I've been doing a lot of last year towards publishing that thing which really the solution that I was promoting was to get on to hybrid learning.
So in your paper you use the term hybrid learning to describe the kind of approach to learning that schools will need to be taking in 2022 in order to be resilient. The term hybrid learning may be unfamiliar to some people, but I know that it has emerged worldwide to describe an approach that's enabled schools to reopen and remain open with cases of covid still in the community. What exactly does the term hybrid learning mean and what are the various components of a hybrid approach.
Yeah, that's a good question, Lesley, because I think it is one of those things that can get lost in the education jargon and we have a lot of it around, don’t we, but I'm very deliberate about using and promoting the use of hybrid in this context, and I remember a couple of years ago there was a whole lot of controversy around the word remote, as distinct from online or distance education, for example, because it was an attempt to convey the idea that actually emergency remote learning was this kind of temporary, but really empowering connection with students who are no longer able to come in face to face. And I think same things going to happen with hybrid. There will be people who have all sorts of ideas in their mind, but for me the concept of hybrid, if you're a biologist you'll understand that if you've got a flower or a plant or something in your garden that is a true hybrid, it is actually a mix of two things, it has characteristics of two things and often they remain separately identified in that plant. You know, it's got a yellow centre, but white petals, you know, borrowed from each other. So for me, it's a word, and as you say, it's now being very widely embraced for that reason. It's a word that most accurately describes what we need to be thinking about from a learning perspective when we are endeavouring to find the amalgam, the mix, of two disciplines, two things. In this case learning that takes place in a physical environment that's in-person and learning that takes place using virtual online or other strategies, which is kind of, you know, a subset or a part of the broader distance education, shall we say, which was my background. I trained in distance education. It has so much to feed into what we understand. But it we're not doing distance education, it is hybrid because it's a mix of both of those things and really important. The danger you see of of embracing any other terms like the distance and I've heard blended coming up, I’ve heard all these sorts of things, is that we revert to just thinking about those two things as separate. We’ll look after the face to face here and then for those who kids who can't, we will do that thing over there like we did during lockdown. What we have to do is move them closer together because this year we're going to see teachers and students more regularly and spontaneously need to move between the two, and so you don't wanna, you don't have to jump from one to the other to the others here. You want to create that seamlessness.
So can you please describe what learning might look like in a school when a hybrid approach is being used? Perhaps, you know can you give us an example?
Yeah, so a lot of the I've kind of been thinking about this for a long, long time now, but I've had an opportunity towards the end of last year with one of the…it was a secondary school from year seven up, a college that I've been working with. For anyone who's watching this, I guess I I don't want it to be interpreted as if it's an absolute kind of formula or recipe, because every school is different and will operate slightly differently, but the principle that would apply across all was firstly, we need to find a way of representing school, in inverted commas, that isn't just dependent on the physical location and the buildings and the rooms and the timetables that are all kind of implicitly imagined as being important there, right, and so the obvious thing that we were lead to is, so what might the representation of school look like in an online environment, as that point of reference, when I wanna find out what's happening today or through the next three weeks and who's responsible for it and how can I participate and all those sorts of things. Those things that are kind of implicitly a part of what we know and understand when we go through the gate and enter the physical school. What does it look like online and we spent some time designing that and imagining what it would look like. It was relatively straightforward to do in this particular college because they had been long term users of the Google online environment and using a product called Hapara, which kind of, I went home that night and created the whole template just in a matter of a few hours, because it's it's such an easy to use and and kind of intuitive environment if you apply some really good design principles to it. So they had that. There are other environments that other schools will have you could do the same thing with. And then the challenge was then to test that. There were three things. Firstly, we encouraged, and I've been working with that school over the end of last year and again last week, to say to build up some templates and some standard ways of operating so that there was a uniformity, a coherence across the school. Now that’s a bit of a challenge because in any school individual teachers like to do things their own way and you don't, you don't want to squash that, but you want to create kind of a middle ground so that the representation of school thinking about it from the learners’ perspective and the parent and whānau perspective is as coherent and consistent as possible. Alright, so they are not having to lurch between one approach and the other and another. So we agreed on some overarching kind of frameworks for that. That was how it was built. Teachers still have a lot of freedom about how they give expression to what they're doing within that, but you can kind of feel, I know where I am. So that was one part. The second part then is, and I guess these are subsets of their overall design, is to think so if it's up there as that constant reference point, it doesn't matter whether I'm at home or at school that’s my reference point. I can see where I'm going. I can see where I need to navigate. I can see how it's going to be assessed. I can see what the expectations are met. I've got environments where I can participate with others all that sort of thing. Then it sets the scene for if I'm at school then I can give expression to that in ways that make use of the space and the environment and the facilities and the support that's available to me at school, right, and that may or may not mean within the one hour period structure with a bell between it or the single classroom space. It may allow me to move between spaces and do things, right, but, and this is generating a reasonable amount of excitement among many of the staff, in this college as we're working they are realising, oh, that could happen because not every kid is going to be able to attend the school all the time. So they are just getting prepared for what may or may not eventuate, but they know that that's a possibly. Meanwhile, if I suddenly find Oh no, my big bro has been a close contact or has been diagnosed as a case positive and I'm gonna have to isolate. I don't have to suddenly go. Oh, I'm gonna miss all the stuff I was doing at school. I was gonna miss that. It just means I can go home and carry on participating in that learning to the extent that I am able. And the sorts of things that the teachers in this school are grappling with as any will, well that sort of approach lends itself nicely to some things, it becomes relatively straightforward. But there are areas such as some of the practical technology areas, some of the music, for example, you need instruments and things, doesn't so easily lend itself to that. So, it creates the need to then think kind of outside the box and outside the square. They’ve come up with it and a couple of solutions that were generated by teachers in that example so far, and we've still got a lot of work to do, but one was where instead of using the physical tools and hammers and all that sort of thing, for the period of isolation they get them engaged, but do that using scissors, cardboard, glue and and work it from a prototyping perspective to still build and make the same thing which when that back online on on site they can now build so that was an answer, a response from someone from there. Another one was to think, well, actually, it's not like lockdown which goes on and on forever and you're not dealing, just because they're at home, they’re not there for ever and ever. So if it means that they miss say three weeks of violin practice, then maybe we need to focus on the musicianship, the reading, the stuff they can do there, but the actual access to the violin, which is the in-person. That’s the stuff that they can catch up on when they come back on, as the only resort. Now none of these things are ideal, but it's what we do when we start to imagine how we can use time and space and access to resources differently, I guess. So that that's an example.
I certainly found the parts where you wrote about sort of online learning first and approaching it from an online perspective in the first instance, I found that very interesting, and I've thought a lot about it since reading it, and I have tried to apply the principle to various possible scenarios and I really agree with you. The most effective as well as the most time efficient way to provide hybrid learning is to think online learning first. But you know all of this means that, you know, we're putting more on to teachers and we're both aware that the pivots that schools have had to make to remote learning, and the continually changing public health requirements over the last two years have been exhausting for schools. And here we are promoting the need for yet another shift in the way that learning happens in schools. What would you say in response to people who might say enough is enough?
Look, I understand that so thoroughly, and I, I can see where that comes from, but I do have a response and I think as educators we are committed in drawn, in the first instance, to doing the best we can for our students. And we saw all through lockdowns this was the heart response of teachers. Now in some cases that led to meltdowns and well-being concerns for teachers because they ended up doing what many do and they overstepped and over committed, right? So there's always that sort of tension there. In the case of this, though, I think there are some middle ground that we can look at, which says look, we're not expecting you to do a whole lot etra, but we are providing you eith support to do things differently. So in the case that I shared with you, in that school we've created templates and the whole online environment so that it's it's real easy to do, and we've done that in a way that means that the planning which teachers would have done anyway, it's a requirement of them as a professional, can simply just translate across that. So I, in the process, I set up just a mock model, just went home one night and one of the teachers shared with me his planning for something he was doing and I actually just simply used his planning and put it up in the online environment. Now as soon as you do that, you start to see the opportunities for a whole lot of other stuff that you might like to add. Like where you put links to the content and resources, where you put some links in so that we're having our synchronous sessions and things. But that kind of becomes a natural flow on because your fundamental planning is already there. So for me that's that's not an in addition, that is just a thinking differently and it's where staff can help each other. The reason I'm I'm quite passionate about it really is I think the payoff for doing that are huge. They are massive. If you think about you know all that extra work that teachers often end up having to do, you know, we don't often see the pay offs for it because it just it just kind of crowds the space that an individual teacher is in. But in this case, if we can support teachers, and at a school level, to make some of these sorts of efforts and transition, the payoff, the payoffs are immense because one of the things that has been talked about for ages in education at the moment as as a major and significant problem with our system, not just in New Zealand but globally, is the the lack of engagement by learners and by others here and often the lack of engagement comes back to the lack of transparency in understanding, why am I doing this and how am I meant to do this and how am I meant to to demonstrate to you what happens. When you make learning through the planning and the design transparent in that way you've got transparency for the students, but also for parents and whānau. And you've also got it up there for the teachers. So where the gains come, is that if we're faced with this continual in and out kind of thing that we're gonna have happen, I I don't know, it could easily be the whole year, but if we've got transparency like that then we've done what we need to do so that when we're confronted with teachers who can't turn up, it's not suddenly the extra work coming there. It just happens naturally because someone else can step in, can see what needs to be happening, all it's sort of thing. And it’s the same with the students when they have to suddenly go home. It's not like they've got, so what do I need to do now? You gonna give me my work to do? No, no. It just continues because it's there. So I think, yip, it is an issue. School leaders need to be very mindful of introducing anything like this in a way that isn't communicating oh look, now you've got all that and you're gonna do this. I think it's about A. We've got to act differently. We're gonna support you to do this. Here's how we're gonna do it.
So in your paper you talk about team teaching as a strategy or cross curricular planning as a strategy for assisting workload issues. Can you expand on that a little bit more?
Yeah, so I guess anyone who follows, you know, larger corporate kind of information like the McKinsey reports and Forbes, you'll notice that organisations over the last 10 or 15 years have been moving much more towards teams that work together on problem solving or on product development, and that those teams often cross what were traditionally boundaries or borders between different parts of the organization. And there is really strong evidence to support the rationale for doing it, which is around, you know, increasing the kind of the knowledge set that sits in the organization, maximizing efficiencies through the comings and goings of different staff and all of those sorts of things, right? And I think the same applies in education. I think one of the problems we've had an education and it happens the further up the school, that the tighter it gets is, we've compartmentalized things to the extent that we've seen arguments start to develop that we can't crossover anymore because you know this subject and its discipline is so different from this subject etc. but you know, as someone who's had five kids go through the system, you know when these kids go out into the real world, nothing is compartmentalized in that same way. They encounter the need for, and opportunities, to cross fertilize between what happens and often it's the students that can do that the best who are most sought after and and find more success in their work. So, specifically, why I think that is something we should pursue right now., is it's a part of the resilience, idea, right? If if we even at a simple level, even if we design learning experiences that that cross between simply two discrete subject areas, that might have been taught separately, in the case of a staff member being away or or students being away and all this thing, the ability to maintain continuity because those things are linked is increased, right? Because we've actually got a wider supply of people contributing. And of course the same thing happens in terms of the the piece of the puzzle, I think is underestimated. That's the impact on teachers. But if you've got, you know if one of those. Let's take two staff members, say in English and a science teacher collaborating on a research topic, science output English input in terms of report writing and so forth, and one of those teachers is forced to self-isolate, then at least the other teacher is still able to be there to be the mentor, the guide, the provocateur, all those things, on site with students and the other teacher is still able to provide input virtually. And I think there’s a real efficacy in that as well as powerful impact.
I agree with you. So for teachers and school leaders for whom hybrid learning is unfamiliar, where would you suggest they start? Now what might be the first steps?
Well, I think in a school that perhaps doesn't have any history or background of, you know, a coherent or consistent thing, I think, at least, an individual teacher can begin to make some steps there, and the steps would be the same. To start by putting their planning in an online environment. And that could be as simple as using, you know a Microsoft environment, or the Google environment, whatever it is, just as in documents up there, or if people are used to using some sort of learning management system. People have their own preferences how they do that, right? But putting it up there so that the emphasis isn't so much on I've gotta get stuff up there for the students to engage with and work on. The emphasis more on, let me let me represent the invitation to learn that is actually the inherent part of what I do in the classroom naturally, when I introduce the topic and I go through all the stuff that gets them enthused and so forth. Start there and then there are multiple things that you can layer into that. You could set up a simple folder and online, that's accessible just by the students where you could put content or links to content. You could put up there then the sorts of things which are the explanations of what needs to be done with that content or with the challenge that you're doing. Yeah, nothing is lost by having that there, because it means your on campus students instead of tapping you on the shoulder every 30 seconds to be reminded what they need to do, they can just go there and find it. In fact, one of the teachers at this college I'm working with, I went into his classroom, he was a very good teacher and I knew, I was confident he could do it and I held up my cell phone and I videoed him just talking to me as if he was talking to his students at the intro of the thing and captured it as a video. Then we put that up in the online environment. Well, it works magic because suddenly instead of the teacher now being the font of all knowledge and the centerpiece and it all hangs on their shoulders, suddenly the students and parents and whānau, can go back and rewind that, just to say, did I miss something? Have I got it? You know. So for the readers, they could read it, for the listeners, they can watch it.
So just before we finish, do you have any final comments about hybrid learning that you'd like to make?
Look, I think it's the advice I was just giving a teacher this morning, don't be afraid to dip your toe in the water. I mean doing something now is going to pay dividends in the in the long term and by long or longer term you know. Yeah, ie in 2-3 and four weeks when this peak is supposedly going to hit us for the first hit. Uhm, you can't start too early. It's really my thing there. And I've yeah I feel for schools that aren't moving in this direction and will get caught in quite an invidious kind of position when that spike hits. So that would be my advice and in terms of hybrid learning. The other one is just do it. Don't don't let's have long philosophical arguments and debates about the language and the you know those sorts of things. Well they're lying out further down. You know we need to to follow that kind of 80/20 thing. If we can pretty much in our gut know that if we can do this and we're going to be 80% on target, and if we we're true to self as action researchers, or you know, researchers of our own, we’ll moderate it, well, we'll fix things as it occurs as we go down the track. There’s a good waffly one to end.
Thank you so much, Derek. As usual, your contribution to education is highly thoughtful as well as thought provoking. I would encourage people to read Derek’s paper if you haven't already, as well as the follow up post that he has written. These can be found on his website at futuremakers.nz. Also, keep an eye out for Derek's writing. I'm sure that he will continue publishing content to support schools over 2022.
Support is also available for distance and hybrid learning under the red level from the Ministry of Education. Schools and kura can submit proposals for PLD support for up to 25 PLD hours if they feel support is needed. The information on how to apply for this support is on the PLD website.
The ministry will also continue to provide information on hybrid and distance learning and to spotlight, good teaching and learning practices as they're identified. Wishing you a wonderful 2022. Ngā mihi nui ki a koutou katoa.
Ka kite anō.
Keeping students learning with a hybrid approach
Derek Wenmoth and Dr Lesley Murrihy provide insights on planning for hybrid learning models