Understanding 21st Century Skills: Comfort with Ambiguity
While Online School continues for the next few weeks, the Weekly will feature various elements of 21st Century pedagogy with examples from this online platform of operations. The best-fitted feature for this week of launching Online School is “Comfort with Ambiguity.”
Along with all the challenges this week’s transition to Online School has brought, it also presents GWA’s community with a wonderful opportunity to get more acquainted with underlying elements of the 21st Century pedagogy GWA wraps into its educational experience regardless of whether instruction occurs on campus or online. While Online School continues for the next few weeks, the Weekly will feature various elements of 21st Century pedagogy with examples from this online platform of operations. The best-fitted feature for this week of launching Online School is “Comfort with Ambiguity.”
Comfort with ambiguity recognizes that in today’s world things often change rapidly and in unpredictable ways, requiring the management of anxiety and trusting in decisions and plans to move forward while the future remains uncertain.
The entire process of planning, training, and implementing Online School at GWA has relied on comfort with ambiguity. The faculty and staff started planning for this scenario many weeks ago without knowing when -- or even if -- the plans would get put into place, and without knowing all the conditions that would exist upon implementation. Things like what mandates the government would issue, whether Casablanca’s digital infrastructure and other crucial utilities would continue to operate, and other things remained beyond GWA’s ability to know or to control. Teachers received training in Online School over the last couple weeks; but, even their familiarity with Seesaw and Google Classroom as platforms for delivering Online School could not answer all their questions of “What if…?” and “How…?” And even with regular communications from teachers to students and from the administration to parents, Wednesday’s launch of Online School at GWA was, as noted by Dr. Menard, a new “adventure” for everyone at GWA while recognizing many questions would arise and some adjustments would be required to make learning succeed online. Upper School students came to campus to pick up textbooks from their lockers. Lower School parents came to the MPR to pick up materials collected there that their children would need. Questions from students and parents ranged from how to turn in assignments to how to manage at-home classroom time for siblings in various grades.
But new and unknown things need not cause great stress and anxiety. Whether online or on campus, there are strategies to build comfort with ambiguity.
First, learn to act without knowing all the details. Asking questions that define the issues or problems helps with ths.
Second, be confident and take risks. Taking small steps and seeking to learn from mistakes develops these skills.
Third, plan for the future while remaining in the present. The more planning one does in advance, especially planning not to know key details, the less things get left to chance.
Fourth, communicate. This gathers more information to help put one at ease, may narrow the range of possibilities for which one must prepare, and can fortify plans with useful input.
Fifth, embrace change. It is the one constant, especially starting the third decade of the 21st Century.
Together we move forward, making adjustments along the way as needed.
- GWA Online School