Preparing for the Next Term, the Second Wave and the New Normal

Uncategorized / May 29, 2020

 – Errol St.Clair Smith –

Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked. – Warren Buffet

The second wave refers to the looming threat of the return of COVID-19 in the fall that may drive another round of school closures and remote learning. It also refers to the second round of contingency planning and preparation we all now need to do.

We were all pushed into making a rapid transition to online learning with little notice, limited preparation, and no idea what to expect. We now have a chance to catch our breath, look ahead, and prepare for what’s coming next.


Uncertain times

Yes, it’s safe to say that these are uncertain times – maybe the most uncertain any of us have ever seen. There are many unanswered questions. Here’s the shortlist:
    • Many school leaders want to return to face-to-face classes soon but are uncertain when a reopening is possible.
    • Administrators are looking at social distancing configurations for reopening schools, but it’s too early to know if any of these models will work.
    • If there is a resurgence of COVID-19, will we go back to doing remote learning the same way we did it over the past few months? Who knows?
    • How will this experiment in online learning impact how we “do school” going forward?
    • Will we ultimately return to the pre-COVID-19 “status quo,” or will hybrid models of school take root?
    • What will the school funding picture look like, and how will it impact students and teachers?

Perhaps the only thing more difficult than preparing to act on short notice is preparing with limited clarity about the road ahead. Which raises the question:

What should educators and education leaders be doing right now to prepare for the uncertain future of school and remote learning?


The first wave 

First, a look back…. On March 3rd, the Academy of Active Learning Arts and Sciences (AALAS) along with the Flipped Learning Global Initiative, released RTOL, a 12-step crash course on making a rapid transitioning to online learning. The program was based on the Flipped Learning framework and global best practices. It covered the 12-domains of effective Flipped Learning identified by 100 educator-delegates in 49 countries as part of a year-long Delphi research project.

The RTOL course was selected by the New York Department of Education to help their 80,000 teachers make a rapid transition to online learning. The program was subsequently picked up by CUNY college of education, and then by a director of teaching and learning at Pepperdine University. Through word of mouth, it was shared with a network of university centers for teaching and learning around the nation. Next, the Michigan DOE embraced the program, followed by school districts from Pennsylvania to Santa Barbara, California. The program was eventually adopted by school leaders and university professors in 69 countries.

The result is that in the past two months, a diverse constellation of educators, school leaders and organizations have formed a loose affiliation around the RTOL program.

What we learned from surveying the first 2,000 applicants in March is that the magnitude of what we had to know and do was overwhelming. But so are the volumes of innovative strategies educators devised to make the leap. Many of the lessons learned are globally applicable and invaluable.


The Second Wave Summit | 2020

This issue of FLR kicks off the Second Wave Summit. The Summit is a multi-day, multi-tracked virtual event that is free to the community. As we all begin to prepare for the return to school, AALAS is hosting a global town hall to enable the community to cross-pollinate insights and strategies.

The event is bringing together administrators, centers for teaching and learning, instructional designers, teachers, university professors, education technologists, deans, schools of education from around the world who were part of the RTOL program and embraced the Flipped Learning framework.

    • We’ll review their transition plans and identify what worked.
    • We’ll look for lessons learned during the rapid transition to online learning that will help us prepare for the uncertain future of school ahead of us.
    • We’ll talk with some of the educators who were part of the RTOL program.
    • We’ll look for misconceptions debunked, errors made, and strategies to avoid.
    • We’ll look for innovative solutions.
    • We’ll explore what transpired across the 12 domains.
    • We’ll look at the global response and see what is universally applicable.
    • We’ll begin the process of tracking and cross-pollinating the best ideas.
    • We get a global take on the net impact on all stakeholders.
    • We get perspectives on how people are preparing for the next term and the second wave
    • We’ll get a 360 degree take on the future of education and what the new normal may be.

We invite you to join this interactive virtual event to hear educators unpack the strategies and insights that are relevant to you as schools reopen.  Most importantly, you are invited to exchange and explore the most valuable lessons and takeaways as we all begin to plan for the future of education in a post-COVID-19 world.



You can begin to get a taste of the sorts of ideas we hope to uncover and share during the Second Wave Summit by watching the video preview and perusing in this month’s issue:

Preparing to Switch Between In-Class and Online Learning

Dr. Thomas Mennella

Time Out: We Really Need to Give Ourselves a Break

Jake Habegger

What We Learned About Supporting Students When Teaching Remotely

Dan Jones

Shifting From Emergency Remote Learning to Whatever Comes Next

Peter Santoro

Now Is the Time to Make Yourself Too Valuable to Lose

Dr. Thomas Mennella

Flipped Learning Teachers Can Move Us From Crisis to Opportunity

Dr. Maureen O’Shaughnessy


Ready for what’s next?

None of us knew what to expect or how to respond when the first wave of COVID-19 came to their shores, but we all know much more now than we did a few months ago. Although there are still many uncertainties, the one thing every K-12 and higher ed educator now knows is that we need to be prepared for the second wave.

If the history of pandemics is prologue, the first wave may have just been a lightweight dress rehearsal for the big one.

The message is clear: don’t fear, prepare.


Join the Second Wave Summit mailing list for free access to the virtual event. Registration starts on June 6th here.

Errol St.Clair Smith
I am the Director of Global Development at the Flipped Learning Global Initiative. I joined the education community in 2005, working closely with national education organizations on community outreach and professional development. Over the last decade, I’ve led the development of community platforms for The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE); the Association of Curriculum Developers (ASCD); the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), the International Reading Association (IRA), the National Associations for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the National Association of School Nurses (NASN), the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), the National Parent Teachers Association (NPTA), and the Association of School Business Officials (ASBO). I'm honored to have received four Emmy nominations and an Emmy Award for public affairs programming. In 2017 I co-authored Flipped Learning 3.0 with Jon Bergmann. The book was updated based on the AALAS Global Elements of Effective Flipped Learning in 2019.

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