Difficulty is an opportunity: the coping of alternative schools in Israel during COVID-19

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COVID-19 has had an extreme impact on schools. Although the effects of COVID-19 on schooling have been a topic of research, non-mainstream schools’ coping has not received critical attention. This paper provides an evidence-based account of how non-mainstream (alternative) schools coped with the COVID-19 breakout. The study’s data collection methods included interviews and observations of educators and students in five alternative schools in Israel. Qualitative measures revealed a three-stage model of coping: stress and helplessness; action and recuperation; discovery, and growth. The model delineates the evolution of schools who were grappling with the complexities and challenges of the pandemic. What began as stress and practical adaptations to cope with lockdown circumstances led to creative education and growth. Thus, the pandemic created an opportunity for educators to rethink educational processes. Findings showed the progression between stages depended on creative thinking and collaboration amongst educators. The study sheds light on the factors promoting growth in schools. Discovering alternative educational pathways is significant. For education to be more dialogic, flexible, and responsive, opportunities to reflect on these ideas should be embraced.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
JournalPedagogy, Culture and Society
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Pedagogy, Culture & Society.


  • Alternative education
  • COVID-19
  • adapting to change
  • coping
  • non-mainstream schools
  • pandemic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Education


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