As we approach the New Year, it is a natural time for both reflection and future visioning.
At Childhood Education International, we approach our reflections and visioning through an education lens – thinking about what we have learned over the past year, what lessons we plan to build on in 2023, and what we are thankful for right now.
Reflecting on 2022
In 2022, many of us found ourselves living a “new normal,” as restrictions that were important during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic were lifted. We were able to connect in-person with family, friends, and colleagues, and renew bonds we had deeply missed. Teachers and education leaders, who so bravely continued to serve children and families during the most difficult days of the pandemic, finally were able to return to more normal school routines.
Nonetheless, educators continue to experience ongoing challenges, and we know there is a worldwide education crisis. Some children have not returned to school at all, and others are impacted by displacement due to conflict and climate change. Many children who have returned to the classroom suffer from learning loss, trauma from losing loved ones, and difficulty re-adjusting to social settings and school environments. Many educators themselves are also experiencing the effects of great stress, trauma, and loss.
In 2022, we once again saw educators rise to the challenge, finding innovative ways to integrate what we had learned during the pandemic into a new sense of normal. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how we live, work, and connect with each other, and we are seeking out opportunities to think differently about how we respond.
Finally, 2022 was notable as global leaders came together at the Transforming Education Summit and the World Conference on Early Childhood Care and Education to focus on education and early childhood in new ways that give us hope for the future. We are bolstered by this exciting shift, and we seek to continue the momentum in 2023.
Looking Ahead to 2023
As we move into 2023, we can use lessons learned in 2022 to inform our progress toward ensuring quality, inclusive, and equitable education for all children. Our hope for 2023 is that we can use these experiences to build a better future together.
We learned to be resilient during the pandemic and recognized how important it is to fight for sustainability in our schools and school systems. Although the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic seems to be over, crises of all types continue that impact the daily lives of children and families worldwide. Conflict, climate change, and displacement are challenges we must confront using the skills and approaches learned during the pandemic.
Innovation in Teaching and Learning
The pandemic prompted us to think about how education should and could be delivered to support and engage children, especially during times of disruption. By building on the innovations developed over the past few years, we can use innovation to improve and advance teaching and learning opportunities worldwide.
Innovation also means listening to those with lived experience and helping to uplift the ways in which they are solving problems locally. Doing so can not only effectively solve challenges at the local level but also provide opportunities for educators around the world to learn from each other through mutual understanding and collaboration.
These past years have taught us that human connection is vital to well-being. Loving, nurturing relationships help us deal with the daily trials of life and enhance our appreciation of the good times. Human relationships give meaning to our lives. We need each other.
Technology has the amazing power to connect us instantly and cheaply across time zones, which can be especially beneficial during times of crisis. Yet, our brains are wired to crave in-person connections—the smiles and hugs that foster deep relationships. We must look to balance the virtual with the in-person in education settings as we move forward.
Appreciating the Present
While we are reflecting and looking forward, we should not forget to look at the present moment and take time to enjoy the wonder around us.
Childhood Education International is continuing our work to ensure that children learn and grow optimally and find innovative solutions to education challenges worldwide. As we do so, we are thankful for many things, including:
- Our amazing and growing team of staff members, who are creative and caring and want the best for children.
- Our network of Country Leads and Regional Advisors, who continue to be the heart and soul of our work and keep us grounded in the reality of children’s lives today and the circumstances faced by educators and education leaders worldwide.
- Our UN Representatives, who keep us connected to the work at the United Nations and global trends in education.
- Our Board Members, who provide guidance and ensure we stay on track with our mission.
- The development of our very own Action Framework, which will guide and provide structure for our work. Be on the lookout for the launch of the framework in 2023.
- Meeting new friends in the early childhood and education sector through participation in events and conferences, including, most recently, the World Conference in Early Care and Education in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
- Our ability to manage complex projects and deliver trainings and services worldwide in deep collaboration with our local networks and partner organizations.
- Funders who believe in our work and are willing to invest in our efforts.
- The children and parents who are the lifeline to our collective global future.
As this year comes to a close, we thank you for spending it with us, and we hope you will take a few moments of your own to reflect on 2022, look ahead to 2023, and appreciate the present moment.
Wishing you all the best in 2023!