With Wisdom We Invite Hybrid Life and Learning

It is absolutely legitimate how a student might gripe about feeling locked up or locked down by school schedules and returning to bells and desks. Especially when considering how some students may have experienced success with balancing work and school. Yet, now with school “back in session” and “normal” working hours, this may mean forgoing the opportunity to earn $20,000+. The 40-hour work weeks are no longer possible. Ample evidence exists of how many adults continue to feel the absurdity of springing back to how things were pre-pandemic. Regimented time back to being a governing force. The feeling of never an unoccupied moment. An overplayed alchemy of monopolized time and boredom. In schools or workplaces alike. Though we know this, we continue to climb into the hamster wheels before us. The predictable. The “safe.” The traditional. But must we have to?

Some Schools and Business Places are Learning

Nick Bloom, Stanford economist and cofounder of WFH Research, professes that “pulling off hybrid work is far from one size fits all.” Bloom cites how different industries like Salesforce and Lazard are getting hybrid work “right.” This is not unique to just the business world but the education sector as well. The World Economic Forum reported in January of 2022 how the United States tops the standings with more than 17 million people being enrolled in online learning. India follows with 13.6 million online learners. Though there are varying predictions for the future, whether online or hybrid, it might make more sense to entertain choices. For, there no longer remains much question as to whether or not there will be (already is!) a shifting in how we imagine time and space. Our reality is one where we can learn and work anytime, anywhere, with anyone willing. And this is exciting!

Small Changes Requiring Intentionality

​​Parent-teacher conferences usually happen once or twice a year. Though brief meetings between 10 and 30 minutes, they are opportunities to leverage parent support. Though educators understand the importance of a collaborative approach, not always does the way we organize events depicts this. Intentionality is required. There are a variety of ways in which we might structure parent-teacher conferences. First, we must begin with a purpose. Why are we meeting? Then, we might ask, who should be present? Not ensuring the presence of students is akin to playing the Telephone Game. A teacher’s message is possibly distorted when or if it gets back to the student. How to gain forward momentum if the driver isn’t in the conference?   

We might also examine if conferences follow the traditional approach, an “information dump.” Generically packaged with simplicity to either be like a tattle tale session. Or, on the positive, purely celebratory. The challenge is for schools to develop cultures where processes and conversations are cornerstones. Sure, it is easier to not be present as a student. To take the passive approach and stand aside, so “the adults” can talk about you. However, this is 2022! Students need to show up. Maybe even lead.

Change, Choice, and Principles

Aside from the presence of students in “their” conferences, more schools are turning to an online option for conferences. Sitting in one’s living room may provide more focus than swimming in a gymnasium of simultaneous conferences; a competitive cacophony of noise, as each person attempts to hear the other across the table. Furthermore, for international boarding school parents or even traveling parents, dialing into the conference is now made possible. Many schools report how online conferences had higher attendance than in previous years when offered face-to-face. Regardless of a parent’s preference, it might be wise to not just default to how things were. Instead, planning intentionality leaves an enormous amount to be discovered. Survey parents. Find out which options are likely to work best for them. Then, instead of one or another, build schedules embedded in options. Stephen Covey says it best, “There are three constants in life… change, choice, and principles.” The pandemic gifted us with an understanding of the importance of flexibility. Might we move with principles, into an ever-changing future, where choices are prevalent?

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

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