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SUPPORTING TEACHERS’NEED TO SUCCESSFULLY TRANSITION. Diverse Learning in 2020 and Beyond, 56.

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Supports Teachers need to Successfully Transition to Remote Learning
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ISBN 978-1-5275-7589-9, pp.56-72
Kara Smith, University of Windsor, Canada
Gareth Davies, Lews Castle College, University of Highlands & Islands, UK
Tim Dolighan, Brock University, Canada
Stuart Clyde, Perth and Kinross Council, UK
How do successful secondary schools seamlessly transition from face-
to-face (f2f) to remote learning during a Pandemic? What kind of
support and training do teachers need to be able to flip learning venues
quickly? Using teacher response data from an Ontario, Canada needs’
survey in May of 2020; and qualitative time-tabling and organisational
communications from a Microsoft flagship school in Perthshire, UK,
this chapter provides a practical overview of how school leaders prepare
their teaching staff and learning communities to innovatively adapt
learning to the needs of families in their districts. Both studies found
that teachers’ self-efficacy (Dolighan & Owen, 2020) and non-punitive
experiences with learning technologies, prior to school system
adaptations, enabled teachers to adapt to new teaching schedules and
creatively plan for authentic learning experiences with students and
parents. Leaders and teachers needed to curate content for a variety of
media and digital infrastructure, so those without new media would not
be unfairly disadvantaged by the change. The study also found that
school leaders whose staff successfully transitioned were clear
communicators with parents and the community. Successful switches
required parents to trust head teachers to change; and for school leaders
to teach not just students, but the parents and community how access to
new learning could occur. Outreach to families was a critical part of
success in change leadership.
This chapter covers a piece of research conducted at two technological schools – one in Perth
and Kinross, Scotland and the other in Windsor, Ontario. The two systems were compared during
the transition to remote learning from face-to-face (f2f) learning in 2020 due to the Pandemic.
As educators, we were most interested in the kinds of classrooms, communications and teaching
supports that our teachers needed, and in the process, identified the types of school environments
and teachers that best adapted to rapidly changing learning.
In review, we identified the following four (4) key points that allowed teachers to change and
schools to be innovative in their approaches to changing learning environments. They are:
1. Teachers need practice ‘changing’, and support in time to become tolerant of change.
Perth and Kinross provided this professional development time and space for its principal
staff through anticipated roles, technology and learning that would be needed years in
advance.
2. Students required one week with the technology and engaged teachers to learn new
systems. Students took 11 minutes to be on task in the first week, and 2 minutes after one
month.
3. Teaching staff need to have an insatiable curiosity to set up new types of teaching
(trends) and support from their head teacher to do so. For example, globally, Canadian
teachers with fewer years of teaching experience reported higher self-efficacy scores
during the switch to remote learning, than senior teachers with years of teaching
technology (Dolighan & Owen, 2021). This criteria for technological capacity was
measured during the new hiring process in Perth and Kinross. Teachers were required to
apply and interview through the technologies they would be using. Teachers not
comfortable with technology did not apply through this method.
4. Seven (7) capacities for innovation may be used in a longitudinal school self-study to
assess for sustainable innovative pedagogies and practices.
These four major trends were measured largely via self efficacy instruments the teachers self-
reported on during the period. Initially, pre-Pandemic, there was already a study in place to
report upon ‘technological innovation’ in pedagogic practices; however,
there was not enough longitudinal evidence in this initial 2019 baseline sample to report on
whether the innovative digital practices in place at that time would be sustainable post-Covid.
This report could be used to inform future impact studies with regard to that query.
For sustained creative practice and learning (Kelly, 2016), educators must be engaged with each
other in cross-curricular and inter-disciplinary work, the principle of interrelatedness. Such
interacting systems and communications have a higher probability of producing those
connections to the community and world (the field) while also connecting to the individual
(pupil or teacher).
Theory, systems and governments change is perpetual. Pupils are more likely to sustain
engagement in innovative learning if pupils identify with this principle, and in fact, look forward
to change. The identification of the principle of perpetual change can energise learners, resulting
in fortification, and enrichment of resilient qualities or protective factors’ (Russell-Mayhew &
Short, 2009).
In the Fall of 2019, pre-Pandemic, the principal teachers in Perth and Kinross had already
been practicing interdisciplinary queries and applied learning. This cross-subject learning was
exhibited at community nights, open to all of the community, not just parents and caregivers, to
celebrate interdisciplinary arts-science projects and ‘community migration days’, integrated
artworks, and/or publicly showcasing the integrated technological work of English, social
subjects, languages, art and the sciences.
Whether such cross-disciplinary cooperation will continue as the school grows and adds more
years, post-Pandemic, we do not know. Which teachers are best able to handle and adjust to this
change was studied by author Tim Dolighan in 2020 in the following section on ‘Remote Ready
Teachers’.
Remote-Ready Teachers
The argument can be made that online skills for instruction and design of online learning
environments will be an important aspect of teacher training and ongoing teacher professional
learning from now on. Understanding that teachers need the resources and training to make the
rapid transition to online teaching can start with developing existing access to virtual tech
support and ongoing supports that schools and school boards have already implemented.
Professional development also needs to look long term, providing teachers with the means to
design and provide meaningful engaging learning experiences for students in online learning
environments. Professional learning is ongoing, as is the need to make workplaces safe,
considering staff’s metal well-being during stressful and uncertain times.
The transition to fully online teaching due to the COVID-19 pandemic was an unprecedented
time in education. The challenges families, students teachers and administrators had to deal with
in a short period of time were daunting to say the least. We conducted a study specifically
focused on secondary teachers’ perceived efficacy to teach online in a massive transition that
they had no choice in. The study by Dolighan and Owen, (2020) was aimed at measuring teacher
efficacy in the early stages of transitioning to fully online environments in the hopes of better
understanding what support and training secondary teachers will need to effectively make that
transition. As well, we were interested in ongoing professional learning and training that will be
needed in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lasting effects on education.
Specifically, this study sought to better understand how teaching experience, professional
development (PD) experience, and virtual teaching supports might correlate with self-efficacy
perceptions of teachers transitioning to online teaching in the domains of student engagement,
instructional strategies, classroom management and computer skills.
Data indicates that supporting teachers through access to virtual technology support is also
linked to higher self-efficacy could be because it is less formal and immediately accessible to
teachers who encounter problems (Dolighan & Owen, 2020). Virtual technology support also
allows the learner to choose the support they need from the videos and examples provided, learn
at their own pace, and go back and review areas of difficulty. Virtual support could also include
chat rooms and access to IT support in real time. Using virtual support videos also reflects self-
regulation and self-directed learning, that is part of the cyclical process of ongoing learning (Cho
& Shen, 2013). Given that the overall efficacy for online teaching scores seemed somewhat low
(compared to higher education studies, Horvitz et al., 2015 and Robinia & Anderson, 2010), it
also makes sense that immediate and accessible support that teachers can access as they
encounter challenges allowed them to overcome the challenge therefore contributing to a higher
sense of cyclical efficacy (Tschannen-Moran et al., 1998). Since this study measured teachers’
self- reported efficacy at the beginning of the imposed transition to online teaching, immediate
and accessible support that could be accessed as teachers are using and encountering challenges,
has a positive enabling effect.
Teachers who had taken online PD training or online Additional Qualification (AQ) courses
reported higher self-efficacy for online teaching (Dolighan & Owen, 2020). The significant
correlation found between efficacy for teaching online and taking an online AQ course indicates
that this is an area that could be explored further. The fact that the data did not show a
relationship between the number of online AQs taken could suggest that online AQ courses vary
in their focus and design with regard to developing skills needed for online teaching and
learning. There is an AQ course that specifically deals with eLearning, but many online AQ
courses could still emphasize subject content and f2f teaching pedagogy and assessment which
could suggest more emphasis is needed to integrate and support online teaching and learning in
the online AQ learning environment.
Teachers who reported taking PD seminars or courses for online teaching also had
significantly higher efficacy scores in the transition (Dolighan & Owen, 2020). Providing formal
PD opportunities that are specific to instructional challenges and design for online teaching or
integrating technology into teaching could give teachers the opportunity to inquire and
collaborate with other teachers and develop skills that are unique to teaching and learning online.
How teachers learn in online environments is also of concern. Having the opportunity to
collaborate, share expertise and experience is important for constructing knowledge and building
skills (Salmon, 2013). The community of Inquiry (COI) model (Garrison & Akyol, 2013) of
online learning would provide a platform for PD sessions that builds on teacher online
pedagogical knowledge and incorporates learner presence and social presence into the digital
space. Technical, informational, social and epistemological/computational dimensions and the
associated competencies should be seen as part of the learning process rather than an add on to it.
(Baylone et al., 2017) Teaching online is more than transferring classroom practice to video
screens or chat rooms. Teacher efficacy for online teaching also differs from that of f2f teaching
in the qualities and characteristics of the teaching and learning experience. (Cory & Stella, 2018;
Rice, 2006).
One of the most glaring findings was that teachers who reported more experience teaching
online did not show significant higher efficacy scores, which is not supported by the literature
that shows significant correlation between experience teaching online and higher efficacy
(Horvitz, 2014; Robinia & Anderson, 2010). This recognizes the difference in teachers’
perceived sense of control and choice in transitioning to online teaching. Other studies that
looked at experience as an indicator of higher efficacy were also not supported by the data
collected. Hung (2016) studied elementary and middle school teachers’ readiness for teaching
online. The study found that teachers with fewer teaching years reported higher communication
self-efficacy and higher self-directed learning was reported by teachers with more years of
teaching experience. Dolighan and Owen (2020) found no significant correlation with reported
self-efficacy for any of the subscales for number of years teaching F2F. The initial stress and
anxiety teachers experienced in the mandatory transition to online may have had a significant
impact on perceived control of the learning environment, which according to Panisorara et al.
(2020), is linked to self-efficacy. Beyond the stress heaped on teachers from the pandemic, the
real stress of learning new technology and delivery modes contributes to what Panisorara and
colleagues call technostress. In terms of teacher needs, further study of teachers’ transition to
online teaching needs to consider the impact stress and anxiety have on efficacy for learning new
technology and pedagogies for online teaching and learning especially under circumstances that
involve a forced move rather than a choice to teach online. Effective supports for teachers could
help leverage the opportunity to build on the capacity that exists and meet the needs of staff and
students in challenging and uncertain times.
7 Capacities necessary for the Flexibility to Change
Internal school and Perth and Kinross Council targets for sustained innovative pedagogies could
be measured in a self-study through seven (7) key capacities. These seven capacities help predict
whether a school will be able to sustain educational innovation over a number of years. The
seven (7) capacities of a resilient teacher, or system, as identified in current research, are as
follows:
1. Strong sense of self (Hurlington, 2010). Bolstering resiliency in students: Teachers as
protective factors.
2. Likely to view personal mistakes or obstacles as challenges that they have the ability and skills
to successfully manage, possessing the ability to remember and invoke positive images
(Russell-Mayhew & Short, 2009).
3. Able to identify their own individual strengths and self-worth (Fox, 2008; Russell-Mayhew &
Short, 2009).
4. Ability to self regulate, focusing their energy on those aspects of their lives they have control
over. (Bandura et al, 1996, 1997).
5. A sense of hope. (Bell, 2001).
6. Curiosity for learning, and trying new things (Dweck,2008).
7. The ability to establish realistic [SMART*] goals and expectations (Martin & Munroe-
Chandler, 2015).
* Specific, Measureable, Adjustable, Realistic, Time-based
Transition to Remote Learning (during the Covid-19 Pandemic)
This 2019-2020 research was interrupted and ended in March, 2020 during the transition to
remote learning. However, the Perth and Kinross’s successful transition to digital remote was
documented as a lesson for other head teachers and principal school leaders in how anticipating
and preparing for change can assist a school community during crises and civic disruption.
Comparing Perth and Kinross’s transition with a similar flagship school in Windsor, Canada
provides a practical overview for this chapter of how school leaders prepare their teaching staff
and learning communities to innovatively adapt learning to the needs of families in their districts.
Both areas found that teachers’ self-efficacy (Dolighan & Owen, 2020) and non-punitive
experiences with learning technologies, prior to school system disruptions, enabled teachers to
adapt to new teaching schedules and creatively plan for authentic learning experiences with
students and parents. Leaders and teachers needed to curate content for a variety of media and
digital infrastructure, so those without new media would not be unfairly disadvantaged by the
change. During the pandemic, this report also found that school leaders whose staff successfully
transitioned were clear communicators with parents and the community. Successful switches
required parents to trust head teachers to change; and for school leaders to teach not just
students, but the parents and community how access to new learning could occur. Outreach to
families was a critical part of success in change leadership during the pandemic.
Perth and Kinross Council’s (PKC) flagship school, Bertha Park, for example, was already
digitally ready and technologically up to date with new pedagogies. Two parts, in particular, in
the Microsoft criteria for Flagship Schools made Bertha Park successful during the transition to
remote learning:
1. They had already implemented ‘thoughtful end-to-end use of technology’ with 1:1
devices for all;
2. They had empowered their school leaders with time to transition and adapt (and fail) in
advance of the school opening.
For example, before Covid, principal teachers had already uploaded videos to support class
work; they had screens linked to ‘real world’ applications of learning, and pupils were already
using industry-standard software such as ArcGIS in art and geography, and PASCO data-logging
software in science. They were already doing what many needed to develop when schools went
online.
Yet, more importantly, the staff had an insatiable curiosity for learning, and this school
community spirit was contagious, so the Covid transition was seen as just another challenge; not
a disaster at all.
At the same time, the head teacher and depute developed timetables to include the
asynchronous time both teachers and pupils would need during the week to engage. They moved
from writing parents emails to producing more personal videos each day so that parents (who
were working overtime) could still feel connected after their evening supper.
Here is a typical Perth and Kinross timetable, current with digital pedagogy (Davies, 2015,
2020(2)) to compare:
with that of their Canadian counterpart in Windsor:
Covid – Teaching Times/Schedules
Period 1: 8:15 AM 10:45 AM (SBI4U)
Lunch: 10:45 AM 11:45 AM
Period 2: 11:45 AM 2:15 PM (SNC1DS)
110 minutes synchronous (2.5h) per period +
online learning content.
Ontario
Scotland
1
Teacher
The Canadian technological school was teaching online for 110 minutes straight for three periods
a day and expecting this to be synchronous (Period 1: 8:15 AM – 10:45 AM;
Period 2: 10:45 AM – 11:45 AM; Period 3: 11:45 AM – 2:15 PM). That is, they were trying to
reproduce the entire school day online; whereas Perth and Kinross, which was carefully planned
and time given, and recognised, for the necessary asynchronous/synchronous learning
experiences and digitial pedagogy needed was successful in engaging students and seamlessly
transitioning to the new way of learning in one weekend.
In comparison, the Canadian school took one month to adjust. Why? Because leaders had not
implemented the time needed for innovative learning and self-adaptation to change pre-Covid.
As a result, the time post-change was wasted.
This proactive, engagement in change made all the difference for Perth and Kinross’s Bertha
Park. As Jesse Stommel , Editor and Executive Director of The Journal of Critical Pedagogy
(1.26.2021) stated,
“Schools need to stop “pivoting.” We already know students are struggling and that won’t
suddenly change by Fall. Compassionate grading policies, easing bureaucratic burdens,
emergency aid, investing more in faculty development and student support. These shouldn’t need
a “pivot.”
Conclusion
In conclusion, teachers’ self-efficacy (Dolighan & Owen, 2020) and non-punitive experiences with
learning technologies, prior to school system adaptations, enabled teachers to adapt to new
teaching schedules and creatively plan for authentic learning experiences with students and
parents. Leaders and teachers needed to curate content for a variety of media and digital
infrastructure, so those without new media would not be unfairly disadvantaged by the change.
The study also found that school leaders whose staff successfully transitioned were clear
Covid – Teaching Times/Schedules
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September   G    Ch BFace  Face  G    Ch A  B Online
STAGGERED START September    Secondary School Reorganiation
September   All students return Grade  to Grade 
September   G    Ch AFace  Face  G    Ch A  B Online
GREATER ESSE CONT
D S B
S A - B C
2020-2021
REVISED 
Ontario
v.
Bertha Park (full timetable)
communicators with parents and the community. Successful switches required parents to trust head
teachers to change; and for school leaders to teach not just students, but the parents and community
how access to new learning could occur. Outreach to families was a critical part of success in
change leadership. After all, change must take the entire community with it.
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