Covid-19 presents us all with a new era of schooling – we're helping schools to keep things as close to normal as possible, without adding to teacher workload.

Thirty second summary:

  • Moving to remote learning presents many challenges
  • Supporting staff & sharing best practice requires leaders to have an overview
  • Technology can (& should!) make this easier

Remote learning is an entirely new territory for the vast majority of schools. Even those with an existing and robust digital set-up are coming across areas they may not have needed to consider before. One example of this is how to go about sharing access to online classes with middle and senior leaders, so that they can view and support learning effectively.

Ordinarily, if leaders wish to find out how lessons are going their simplest approach is to go on a learning walk and pop into a variety of classrooms. In the realm of online learning, the equivalent is not so straightforward – emulating it can end up requiring the sharing of multiple class codes and/or manual addition of  teachers to classes, adding an extra level of stress to the process of remote schooling.

We think there’s a better way to do things, especially as edtech has so much power to reduce teacher workload. We’ve been working with our schools to create a new feature in Sparkjar to enable leaders to better support their teams. Heads of Department are now able to view details for each of the classes in their subject area. This allows them to view assignments, chats and topics as needed, without any manual input required from the school or teachers.

It’s clear that in these uncharted waters, coordination from middle and senior leaders will be required in order to empower staff to provide effective learning activities. There will also be pockets of great practice that start to emerge, which will be of benefit to all staff to share, celebrate and recreate, as well as being likely to inspire further innovation. We're hopeful that giving middle leaders the ability to virtually ‘pop in’ on a class will allow them to provide not just support but also opportunities for insight, without adding to workload in what is already a very stressful time for all.