We’ve been pushed into designing schools for crisis, as opposed to designing schools
for what we want them to be. There is an opportunity to use this experience to
rethink our vision for schools and accelerate those changes that need to be made.
GOA, Kelsey Hall

The NEXTschool team is empathetic to the challenges that students, parents, teachers and school leaders have been and will continue to face in living in and planning for a ‘new normal’. It is messy work and we are here to support. As a LEARN-powered initiative, our attention has been directed toward supporting all education stakeholders in the current reality by providing Learn@home Resources, coaching and advice at all levels.

Educators are working closely with parents to give personal support, a sense of community and ongoing learning to students in order to finish the 2019-20 school year with some sense of normalcy. Many are also looking for a framework to plan for 2020-21. NEXTschool’s STARC framework and design mindset may be informative in developing the adaptive and agile model that these extraordinary times demand.

Below are some prompts and curated resources that we hope are helpful to all schools as they discuss, deliberate, plan for and lead in an uncertain future.


Each [model] brings with it nuances and opportunities for modification
and creative solutions unique to a specific [school]. –
15 Fall Scenarios, Maloney & Kim

Now that our ‘digital native’ students are not coming into school buildings and classrooms everyday, they are realizing just how much physical space facilitates the human need for social interaction. On the other hand, the pandemic restrictions demonstrate some of the opportunities that come with ‘learning without walls’ or ‘learning anytime, anywhere’. In the upcoming months, depending on health regulations and recommendations, it is possible that we will need a hybrid. Teachers and students may be in ‘toggle-mode’ where some learning takes place at home, some at school in smaller groups or in shorter time-frames; some learning may happen in the community, and the learning time-table may be different day to day.

  • How might we optimize the use of school space for learning under changing health restrictions?
  • What parts of the curriculum might be best delivered remotely? Synchronously? Asynchronously?
  • What parts of the curriculum might be best delivered in the classroom, other spaces in the school or in the community?
  • How might we make a school schedule that is more agile yet still doable? How can we provide support to students throughout the day and in some cases, evening, without exhausting teachers and parents?

ANDRAGOGY (curriculum, teaching approaches, assessment)

 Teachers might need to shift to more of a Project Based Learning approach,
students are engaged in long-term projects that incorporate learning
from multiple
subject areas…where a group of teachers “shares” a larger
group of students, but
each teacher actually stays with part of the group in
their classroom and students
can “attend” video-broadcast mini-lessons being
given by teachers in other rooms
.” – Cult of Pedagogy, Jennifer Gonzalez

Teachers continue to learn, share and experiment with a variety of tools to design engaging and meaningful learning experiences for their students. They are adapting their lessons and assessments to the virtual context and finding that some approaches are more effective, and others more challenging. The pandemic has necessitated a dramatic shift in many ways; with time, it may give teachers the opportunity to deepen and broaden their offerings.

  • What do teachers need now in order to offer engaging and meaningful learning experiences in a range of contexts? What resources, training and coaching support might they need? What else?
  • How might the current and hybrid environment be a venue for enhancing student voice and choice in what they learn, how they learn and how they are evaluated?
  • How might we adapt assessment protocols to give timely and relevant feedback to students?


“Perhaps more so now than any other time, all decisions related to
the future
of schooling need to place protection, care, and compassion
for students and
educational staff at the centre.” EdCan, Osmond-Johnson et al.

 Learning is a social endeavour and does not happen without relationships. And understanding the social-emotional needs of students and teachers has never been more important. The vitality of teacher-student and student-student relationships is critical in any model and must be prioritized in any adaptations that are made. Furthermore, the last few months have facilitated deeper, more collaborative parent-teacher relationships; there is an opportunity now to build on that partnership.

  • How might we create a renewed sense of belonging for all members of the school community?
  • How might we build in intentional opportunities for collaboration and connection among students?
  • How might we amplify student voice in the (re-)shaping of school culture and in the planning process?
  • How can we ensure that students are feeling included and supported in a holistic way (mental and physical health, academic, leadership, co-curriculars etc).
  • How can we ensure that teachers are supported in a holistic way?
  • How might we engage parents more fully in the design process?


Teaching has not normally been seen as a team sport. The move online
is the result of a proactive, collaborative push during a crisis… this may
be the way to dismantle silos that form in schools. 
The New Normal: 5 insights from GOA’s Covid-19 Leadership Roundtable, Furlonge & Rogen.

 The pandemic has shown the incredible potential of our collectivity, and there isn’t a better time to engage the entire community into the learning process. Teaching has traditionally been an individual pursuit yet more and more, and particularly in the current context, educators are seeing the value of a collaborative approach. Already parents are more fully engaged in their children’s learning and individual community members and organizations are being creative about supporting a new paradigm.

  • How might curriculum be driven by trans-disciplinary, community challenges, giving students agency to influence real-world outcomes that impact them?
  • How might schools connect with health care providers, scientists, essential services, local merchants, entrepreneurs and civic leaders to collaboratively engage in community problem-solving?
  • How might community members be able to support a range of new challenges for schools? ie. transportation, child-care, breakfast and lunch programs, after-school programs, co-curriculars, technology infrastructure, training and coaching.

Here are a few more recommended resources for navigating toward 2020-21:

The NEXTschool team is here to support school boards, principals and teachers as they navigate and plan for the upcoming months and years. Please be in touch if you have any resources to share or if we can support you towards becoming a more adaptive and agile organization.  



lizfalcoNEXTschoolWe've been pushed into designing schools for crisis, as opposed to designing schools for what we want them to be. There is an opportunity to use this experience to rethink our vision for schools and accelerate those changes that need to be made. - GOA, Kelsey Hall The NEXTschool team is empathetic to...