Polish educational system has faced a challenge related to COVID-19 pandemic and closure of all schools and educational institutions. School directors, teachers, students and their parents ask themselves what they should do, how to teach and how to learn. Attempts to reproduce traditional teaching with closed schools are futile and doomed to fail. The Center for Citizenship Education Foundation is helping teachers and school boards to manage in that new situation – it shows how to organize and conduct distance education. Since March 12, over 60,000 people have benefitted from CCE’s assistance.
The ”Learning Schools” (LES) is a program that has been run by the Center for Citizenship Education Foundation and Polish-American Freedom Foundation for over 20 years. Its objective is to improve the quality of Polish education through innovative teaching methods, first of all such as formative assessment. Today more than ever before schools have to be learning organizations. Right after the school closure was announced, a free webinar on online teaching was launched as part of “LES” program. It was attended by over 6,000 teachers. Meetings for teachers and school directors on early school education, online educational hours, work with students with special educational needs, cooperation of teachers, and school work organization under those special conditions followed on next days. Scheduled are also meetings on online assessing and distance education without computers.
In a short time, teachers have to adjust to different conditions and working methods, and change their thinking about student assessments and its role. Even more than before now children and young people need to feel that it makes sense to learn. Now the main role of education is to help them understand the surrounding world, including phenomena related to the pandemic. Introduction of new tools or new subject matters shall be put aside, as now the most important is the care of children’s wellbeing, and relationship with teachers and peers.
Realizing that it is possible that schools won’t reopen in the middle of April, CCE is launching a month-long free online course for teachers on distance education. Deadline for applications is on April 7. At the same time, school directors get ongoing support in organization of teachers’ work in such a way that distance education meets students’ needs best and can be reconciled with their parents’ other duties.
“We estimate that free webinars on distance education and our materials were used by some 60,000 people, and the number of those interested in our activities does not go down,” Dr. Jędrzej Witkowski, the CCE President says. “And it is worth noting that teachers and school directors showed they are very flexible and open. Schools had to organize themselves anew in just a couple of days and – some better, some worse but they managed,” he adds.
Considering teachers’ and school directors’ needs, CCE launched a service providing tips and hints on distance education on blog.ceo.org.pl website. It is used by thousands of interested teachers every day.
Katarzyna Małek, Center for Citizenship Education Foundation, tel. 663-244-612