Discover the latest education trends in 2023, from the first notable public AI chatbot, CHATGPT, to how classrooms have changed post-pandemic. Learn how mental health issues have affected students and teachers, and what support structures are in place. Also, find out about parent expectations as they demand more from schools and teachers. This article offers insights for educators who want to stay ahead of the curve and be proactive in utilizing new tools and techniques in their classrooms.


During the year 2022, the world searched “can i change” more than ever before.

From changing careers to seeking new outlooks on life, people were and are finding ways to reimagine themselves.

Watch the 2min short GOOGLE – A YEAR IN SEARCH 2022


You can explore more trends from the year 2022 here https://yearinsearch.google.

ChatGPT was launched in November 2022. It is the first notable public AI chatbot.

You can ask it pretty much anything, but here are a few of its talents:

Explaining a concept,

 – Summarizing text,

 – Comparing and contrasting two things,

 – Giving directions for a task,

 – And writing…anything from poems to stories to 4-paragraph essay responses.

What does this mean for educators?

I suppose schools can be reactive and ban its use, as some New York City schools have done, or we can be proactive and learn how best to utilize it in our classrooms. We can show colleagues how they can use it for lesson creation, as well as for practical learning activities that demonstrate how it can be a beneficial tool for student learning.

Here’s a quick 5 min video on how CHATGPT works



In South Africa, school closures were announced on 18 March 2020, interrupting the learning of almost 17 million learners from pre-schools to secondary schools. Close to 2,3 million students enrolled in post-school education and training institutions were affected by the implementation of the strict lockdown rules.

While remote learning programs were designed, this did not guarantee that the children participated in the instruction.  According to a new report, “COVID-19 and barriers to participation in education in South Africa, 2020” released by Statistics South Africa, only 11,7% of schools offered remote learning options nationally. Most schools offered rotational options instead of remote learning and the urban-rural divide was prominent, as twice as many individuals were given the option of remote learning in urban areas compared to rural areas.

New educational policies and regulations, including the adjustment of the academic time-table, new teaching programs, mode of delivery, catch-up of the curriculum, health and safety measures as well as financial relief packages have been designed for the education sector, but the effect of the pandemic on areas such as early childhood education is apparent and the inequalities associated with access to digital connectivity of households have had major impacts on the access to quality learning.

What does this mean for educators?

Remove your superhero capes now and stop trying to “save” everybody. There are only 24 hours in a day and not all of those should be spent in “work mode”. You have a personal life and the line between school and home might need to be redrawn if it became blurry over the past year or two. Take back some control in the classroom and consider reworking your communication and engagement policy with parents. No more after-hour WhatsApp messages or immediate responses to emails. You might be struggling with trying to play catch-up, but at the end of the day, your health and well-being is way more important.



Long before the pandemic, pupils in most South African schools carried heavy psychosocial burdens and it was estimated that one in three people would be affected by mental health illness in their lifetime. Typically, these issues show up in poor school performance, with the system mostly unable (not necessarily unwilling) to help youngsters address these underlying issues of depression and anxiety.

While teachers are expected to support pupils in managing their emotional distress, they themselves are experiencing far higher stress levels. This is linked to much more intense work demands, coupled with illness, loss, anxiety, fatigue, and fear associated with the greater possibility of contracting the virus, even now. Increased mental stress and anxiety in the education sector reflect a serious deterioration in mental health in the broader population. Anxiety at home, whether felt by the child or parent, filters back into the classroom, and in the same vein, anxiety in the classroom filters back into the home.

It is important that there is a support structure built in so that everyone who arrives through the school gates every day, is embraced with a culture of care and compassion and that mechanisms are put in place to normalise vulnerability and reduce the risk of mental health.

What does this mean for educators?

Teachers should have a basic understanding of mental illness in order to grasp how trauma affects things like self-esteem, behavior, and interpersonal relationships. We really need to move away from the stigma and ignorance of trauma, toward normalizing children’s experiences associated with mental illness.


We are all emerging out of “survival mode” and trying to get on with our lives with the pandemic behind us and the long road ahead to wherever it is we are trying to go.

Parents were able to, possibly for the first time ever, step into the shoes of the teacher to experience first-hand, how teaching their child felt. This didn’t just involve 1 or 2 hours at most doing homework, but now meant putting themselves more into their children’s classroom.

This meant increasing their specific demands on schools, where some parents want to see their children’s teachers adopting a softer, more empathetic touch, while others are expecting teachers to provide the same rigor and push for the progress they could count on before the pandemic.

Parents were also seen as part of the teaching team and so communication became vitally important to ensure that content and work flowed effortlessly between stakeholders. This “always on” mindset has resulted in the professional lines being somewhat blurred and after-hours messaging and emailing is just one of the issues that puts additional pressure on teachers.

We are well aware that all stakeholders in the educational arena have been negatively affected by COVID, making it important that parents and care-givers or guardians, as their children’s guides, stay mindful of its effects on everyone involved and tread carefully when advocating for their children.

What does this mean for educators?

It might be necessary for schools to come up with a new way to establish the communication or engagement policy between parents, teachers and students, and if there wasn’t one prior to the pandemic, workshop drawing one up with your SMT.


This is such an exciting time to be in. Students learning environments can play a significant role in the quality of their education. In fact, all things being equal, the impact of moving a child to a classroom that’s been optimized for learning (considering factors like lighting, layout, and design) can account for as much as 16% variation in student progress over the course of a year. Not to mention, if additional issues causing stress and anxiety are also removed or at the very least, reduced.

The most obvious education models that had emerged way before the pandemic were:

  1.  – Hybrid learning – Where some students attend class in-person, while others join the class remotely.
  2.  – Blended learning – Where all students receive a mixture of in-person and virtual/remote instruction.
  3.  – Flipped classroom – Where students learn knowledge (e.g. reading, videos) at home and work on live problem solving during class (a form of blended learning).
  4.  – Hyflex learning – Where students are given choice in how they participate in hybrid or blended learning modes.

Trying to keep teaching and learning going strong during the lockdowns literally catapulted educators into trying something different and they would have been exposed to at least 1 if not all 4 of these models. While each model is slightly different, all are united by the belief that technology can optimize and enhance learning environments in new and meaningful ways.

Obviously, the main obstacle for teachers in South Africa, was the very noticeable digital divide where having the devices and the internet, as well as quality content being delivered to the students, differed significantly depending on the area where the teacher was teaching. Key to the success of any future learning environment is how technology is applied, and the conditions required to use it meaningfully.

Experts believe getting this right is critical, and that future learning environments will likely vary depending on local context. This means moving away from a universal model of one kind of learning environment (traditional schools), to better account for the specificities of each school system — including funding, leadership, training, and ongoing support for administrators, teachers, and students.

But we are now seeing many more new learning opportunities for students on offer in the form of virtual schools, online schools, learning centers, hubs, and strong homeschooling networks. Parents are furiously searching for something different, and so they should.

What does this mean for educators?

Be the expert on how children learn best, be flexible in your approach and where possible, try to put systems in place that promote collaboration and teamwork. There’s the right schooling environment for every child. Every child can learn if the environment lends itself for that purpose.

Rita Pierson, a teacher for 40 years, once heard a colleague say, “They don’t pay me to like the kids” and her response was: “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.” Her famous quote was “Every child deserves a champion; an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists that they become the best they can possibly be.”

Watch the TED talk here that has had over 14 million views and then go and be the champion your students need.








Article written by

Dr. Philippa Fabbri

Director of Communication, Funding and School Design at Elsen Academy.

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