Dr. Stephen Coryelle, MUIDS’s Deputy Director of Academics, discusses the extraordinary academic challenges students and teachers faced this year, and how they overcame them.
The “New Normal” we are all living through is anything but normal. Teachers and students are teaching and learning under extraordinary circumstances, whether due to a lockdown that forced them to endure separation from their friends and colleagues, or studying and teaching behind barriers that remind all of them of the pandemic each of us is living through.
2020 was not the year any of us imagined, but the obstacles it presented did not stop our teachers from helping our students move forward in their academic careers. Rather, it forced them to adapt and experiment with different forms of teaching and learning, all of which have helped our students become more independent learners.
From the middle of March until the end of May our school, like all schools throughout Thailand, was in lockdown. Our teachers have used Google Meet to deliver instruction to students, and Google Classroom to give them access to assignments and quizzes, all while guiding them through difficult material. In comparison to schools in Thailand and around the world, MUIDS delivered far more hours per week of contact time than the average school, despite the challenge to planning and distance created by the Covid-19 lockdown.
After the lockdown our teachers have continued to use these tools as a way to communicate with students, but also to store and submit assignments, content, rubrics, and other materials students can access at any time and any place. These policies have increased the time students can learn and motivated them to take greater ownership of their learning.
These improvements are not the most important achievements MUIDS has gained from this year. Rather, it is a recognition that we should cherish the connections we have with each other as educators and students. Our students clearly missed their friends (and some of us as well) and are taking the opportunity to reestablish those friendships. The adults are doing the same with their colleagues as we reflect on the challenges of these prior months, and learn how to support each other through the difficult months ahead.
A day will come when this pandemic will end. When it does all of us will encounter another “normal” after this “new normal” ends. Because of the hard work of our teachers and students, it will be a better one.