by Christof Wiechert, Freelance work Pedagogical Section at the Goetheanum
Over the past few weeks, various schools have asked for help with overcoming the corona crisis without schooling. The advice given was useful. However, it should be kept in mind that every school’s situation is different. Many points of view were addressed, but due to the seriousness of the matter, they are not written in a drafted text, but rather in bullet points.
1. The most important thing is that the school cares for its students at a distance. The parents should not get the impression that this is now a teacher vacation.
2. It is important to maintain intensive contact with the parental homes, because they may be permanently overwhelmed by the situation.
3. For kindergarten and lower school, this would mean that parents can speak to teachers by phone or Skype at fixed times of the day. So like office hours.
In addition, the school should be accessible at all times of the day, through teachers who can answer the questions and concerns of the parents.
4. Once a week, the school should issue a bulletin that reports various things, e.g. what is happening in the wider school community and within the parent body.
5. The kindergarten: Kindergarten teachers should regularly advise the parents and make suggestions as to what they can do with their little ones. Kindergarten children should not see the kindergarten teacher speaking in front of the screen.
6. Lower school up to and including class/grade 3: Several times a week, teachers should have contact with the children via Skype or Zoom and tell them an age appropriate story. They can then give instructions on what to do with the story.
7. In grades 4 - 6, fixed contact times can be arranged where the teachers teach using zoom, just try to teach the main subjects such as arithmetic, writing exercises, grammar, content can be given and homework can be looked at. Instead of handwork, the handwork teachers can teach skills of an origami-like nature to the students at a fitting specified time.
8. The contact should be so sociable and friendly that the students forget the screen inbetween.
It is advisable to speak as little as possible about the pandemic and the virus to students in grades 1-6, but rather to use all available time for the lessons and to talk a lot to the children. How are you? What are you enjoying right now? ...
9. Students can also show or read their work to each other.
10. In grades 7 - 8, lessons can be given as regularly as possible for a few hours a day.
11. Geometric drawing can be practiced, and class/grade 9 can create Platonic solids under the guidance of the teacher.
12. Extended tasks can be set for the Upper school. You can also hold discussions on specific topics with Upper school pupils.
13. It is also essential that teachers of the Upper school are available to the parents with advice and support at all times, ideally in an organized form.
We have received reports of overwhelmed parents, crisis situations and a lot of extra work for life counselors, psychologists and other support workers. The school should be very proactive. Always be available during these times, not through an answering machine, but through a human being!
14. Inevitably, there will be questions like do we still have to pay school fees? Therefore, Management and Board members must also be available to answer questions. The idea of the three-fold order is helpful here. School fees are not paid to buy a service, but to enable the teachers to work. If you think further, you come to the idea of solidarity of parents with the school. The best way to do this is to have board members who do not have a teaching position at school hold such discussions.
15. It is recommended that teacher conferences are held once a week, e.g. via zoom. We have had good experiences with this.
From one school I received feedback that the students were also practicing eurythmy at home under the guidance of the eurythmy teacher, and after a few days, the students showed each other the exercises with such success, that they requested new tasks.
These are hard times. Everything superficialhas come to a standstill; the inner life should be as intense as possible. So can pedagogical value be created and help can be provided where it is needed.
Translated by Erika Taylo