Gateway High School is constantly adapting to a changing educational environment, and we have certainly experienced many changes during the past year. As we put 2020 behind us, we can look forward to a promising future filled with exciting new academic trends. Gateway High School remains committed to restorative practices, and new educational innovations will help us achieve these goals in 2021.
When students engage in experiential learning, they absorb new information by actively engaging in immersive activities. With the rise of new technology such as Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, experiential learning is even more effective and immersive in 2021. According to David A. Kolb of the University of Leicester, the Experiential Learning Theory (ELT) encompasses four stages. These are concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation.
Simon Fraser University states: “Experiential learning within the classroom also provides students with a hands-on opportunity to learn the value of the community component of restorative justice practice by building it themselves […] When a values-based community component such as this is missing from the classroom, restorative justice classes are easily co-opted.”
Project-based learning is also an emerging trend for high schools in 2021. Students “learn by doing” in a similar manner compared to experiential learning, but the emphasis here is on working within groups. Projects help students develop a number of key skills, including creativity, collaboration, and communication. These skills are extremely sought-after in a modern world that is becoming increasingly reliant on Artificial Intelligence. In addition, project-based learning creates an exchange of diverse backgrounds, cultures, and ideas.
Schools across the globe are now encouraging students to become lifelong learners. High school students can set themselves up for future success by analyzing their own learning styles. When students understand how they process information most efficiently, they can make their entire educational journey easier in the future. Educators also have an opportunity to teach valuable life skills at the high school level. These may include creating a portfolio, building a resume, and journaling. This trend encourages students to become more curious about their diverse learning environment and the world beyond their classroom.
Social and Emotional Learning
High schools around the globe are focusing on mindfulness, holistic development, and emotional IQ. A School in Tennessee called Valor Compass is implementing a number of interesting strategies. Students at Valor Compass start the day in Circles. They build trust in these safe places before starting the school day, and this encourages a greater degree of collaboration, mindfulness, and inclusion. While these terms might seem vague and ill-defined, many schools are now beginning to implement concrete emotional learning strategies with real results.
Giving Families More Options
At Gateway High School, we understand that families play an important role in the educational process. During 2020, we witnessed the rise of remote learning. Although the transition was difficult for many, virtual classrooms allowed students to spend more time with their families. Many students and parents might have appreciated the level of freedom and flexibility offered by remote learning.
Can we offer families more options going forward? Can remote learning allow students to study whenever they want, allowing them to enjoy more time with their busy parents? Because educators have proven that remote learning is possible on a large scale, these are the kinds of questions we are asking ourselves as we head into 2021.