Post covid MDN edify education making room for ‘Safe Spaces’ in schools

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Dr Gaurav Muradia

This focus on nurturing emotional connections, as well as protecting mental health is also reflected in the considerations and accommodations built into our strategies for blended learning, says Dr Gaurav Muradia, Director, MDN Edify Education Pvt. Ltd. & DRS International School, Hyderabad in a conversation with Elets News Network (ENN).

Even as our inboxes and newsfeeds are filled every day with apocalyptic projections reimagining how the post-lockdown school setting will be like, here at MDN Edify Education Pvt. Ltd., we have embraced the complexities and challenges this crisis poses as a unique pedagogical opportunity to revisit the true essence of learning and teaching.

Without doubt, at the heart of cognition and learning, as the theorist Piaget noted, is our ability to adapt by assimilating and accommodating our mental frameworks to new scenarios and contexts so that we constantly refine and build on our understanding of the world. Seen this way, the COVID-19 pandemic, and its ramifications for schools, is a learning assignment- albeit one, whose kind and scale we have never seen before.

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Also read: New normal for schools post Covid – 19

This learning assignment calls for accelerated professional development for educators and school leaders alike. There is an urgent need to tap into the socio-emotional power that learning holds. Learning and teaching can be the glue that holds together communities through this difficult time, by modelling resilience and providing young learners with the emotional and intellectual tools they need to navigate uncertainty, adapt to change of an unprecedented scale, and thrive using new modes of exploration and learning that the ‘new normal’ calls for.

MDN Edify Education is currently offering a host of initiatives to support our rapidly expanding network schools across India in safeguarding the health of their learning communities as they plan their exit from the lockdown. The launch of a dedicated ‘Manual of Prevention and Protection Procedures’, spanning domains such as the sensitization of stakeholders, considerations for transportation, management of common spaces and high-contact surfaces and amenities, the conduction of meetings as well as the in’s and out’s of classroom reorganization was one of the first steps taken in this direction. This collection of well-thought-out Standard Operating Procedures not only inform our school leaders in planning for a smooth transition in terms of logistics and administrative planning, but also provides sound guidance on monitoring the mental health & well-being of students in the months to come. From offering insights into creating safe spaces for discussing health anxiety and related concerns, to the development of tools to help learners recognize the symptoms of stress and manage them with the aid of healthy coping mechanisms and even an array of self-care techniques- the manual emphasizes the need to address all dimensions of well-being- not just the ones that concern physical health.

This focus on nurturing emotional connections, as well as protecting mental health is also reflected in the considerations and accommodations built into our strategies for blended learning and continuity planning for academics. As schools iron out the kinks in staggered schedules, designated drop-off points, contactless marking and alternate-day teaching, it is also vital to look beyond the structures and matrixes of schedules to consider providing time for students with teachers and peers for reflection, sharing and rapport-building. While social distancing is here to stay, we can be savvy and foresighted in planning for meaningful interaction and collaboration that respects the boundaries of individual space and even carefully planned seating charts.

The bottom-line is that safeguards and prevention procedures are essential and vital, but we must keep the myriad needs of our learners in mind as we cross off our checklists, and wield our thermal scanners. Let’s make sure there are friendly faces to greet our students at the end of every disinfection tunnel and hope that, like all learning assignments, this too brings us some unforgettable lessons!

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