Many of our faculty have been teaching for well over 20 years and never did they think they would be offering remote learning to children ever! Yet, within two days of being forced to close down the campus, Waldorf Academy faculty rolled out a remote learning program utilizing live zoom classes and google classroom. Kindergarten teachers created their own website complete with original artwork, daily activities, audio recorded puppet shows, circle activities and songs as well as community forum for sharing. This ability to adapt and change to a remote learning platform was far greater than any other school yet the inconceivable took place - why? How was such a dramatic change possible?
At the core of this ability to change and transform is the governance model. It is a non-hierarchical model of leadership based on collaboration led by the faculty. There are many variations of the self-governance model and in many other Waldorf schools there is a school director but the balance of leadership is always shared and driven by the faculty in areas of the pedagogy. Teachers are treated like professionals. They are expected to lead. This ensure decisions are student centred. For this model to succeed, however, it requires intense collaboration amongst the teachers and accountability to each other. The teamwork that took place over two days was truly inspiring. Various teachers stepped forward and shared their tech expertise while others were able to ensure the principles were maintained and children were placed at the centre. From the beginning there was a balance of time in front of the screens and authentic tasks rather than a series of worksheets or pre-recorded videos. Perhaps the greatest success has been the art classes and knitting. Both practical arts teachers were able to create outstanding experiences for their students each utilizing different platforms. The knitting tutorials on youtube are being gobbled up by grade three students who are pumping out hats in record time.
There are of course challenges and a range of needs and desires experienced by families and the school staff and faculty. All of us are experiencing the same storm but in different boats. Together we are navigating uncharted territories but with the children at the centre and the teachers at the helm with parents as partners- we are staying connected and committed.