They say in the face of danger we have two options: fight or flee. Well, not when the danger is lasting and insidious. In that case, the best option is to adjust. Fast. That, at least, is what IH Bucharest and its young learner units, English Kids Academy (EKA) and English Teens Academy (ETA), have learnt so far these past weeks.
Bucharest, 11 March: as the World Health Organisation declares the covid-19 a pandemic, the Romanian Ministry of Education decides to shut down the state schools. EKA and ETA follow suit promptly, to protect their students. 12-13 March: the IH Bucharest management is feverishly brainstorming solutions to the crisis. 16 March: Romania’s President decrees the state of emergency. IH Bucharest responds by suspending its adult courses too, and closing its three centres; in-company classes are also discontinued as companies around Romania take similar measures. Everything’s on hold. Holding our breath, wary, confused and expectant.
And then action:
1) the management calls a meeting where we decide together to start working from home
2) focused marketing work is done to advertise and sell e-learning options
3) young and adult learners are given the choice to start online courses from Net Languages
4) teachers attend intensive online training to become familiar with distance teaching via Zoom
5) teachers share other training options on teaching online (e.g. from Cambridge Assessment English)
6) some of the adult courses have been resumed online over Skype or Zoom
7) the Head of Teacher Training sets up a virtual teachers’ room on Facebook to build up peer support
8) the IT and Educational teams upload coursebook e-versions onto shared platforms (Dropbox, Cloud)
9) the sales team is brainstorming pandemic-length educational products (e.g. short distance couses)
10) EKA and ETA courses restart online as usual (i.e. same pre-pandemic timetable) from 23 March
We’re all right now. And getting better. There’s a feeling of hope, recovery and confidence in the air. How have we regained balance?
✔ the decision to switch to teleworking and online teaching was communicated well and timely
✔ the staff was encouraged and allowed to contribute ideas and solutions to the changes being made
✔ the school’s tech resources and digital infrastructure was quickly adapted to meet the new needs
We are constantly thinking of our partner schools within the IH network, particularly those in the countries most affected by the pandemic (Italy, Spain, France, Germany, etc.). We’re following the news reports about the coronavirus toll in your countries. We feel for you and we stand in solidarity with you all. We wish you resilience, courage and inspiration in these times of worry, loss and uncertainty. And we definitely look forward to meeting you again in the most warmly humane of ways: face to face, at IH conferences, gatherings and events, once all this is successfully over.