To me, teachers are superheroes. I was raised by one. She raised two sons as a single mom and kept up with her daily teaching duties in an elementary classroom. Looking back, I am not sure how she did it all while also allowing her kids to feel such a strong sense of safety and security. We always knew we were okay because she was always there when we needed her.
The landscape has changed without warning
I am not sure how my mom would have managed in the environment that we are in today due to the spread of COVID-19. Don’t get me wrong, I know that she would figure it out, but it might take a little time. There is a new routine now and every teacher is dealing with their unique personal situation on top of whatever expectations are being thrown their way. I have heard from teachers home supporting elderly parents and others who are home with small children all day long because their spouses are first responders. There are countless examples of these types of things in all school districts.
Remote Learning – What Are We Talking About?
There are very few communities where teachers have prepared to support students through online learning of any sort. In addition, there is no way to replicate what goes on in our classrooms each day, especially our elementary classrooms.
Let’s Focus On Staying Connected
I remember talking to a friend who is an administrator at a virtual school and he told me that his school purchases the curriculum that teachers follow. He told me that they wanted their teachers focused on building relationships with students and not writing curriculum.
This line of thinking has never been more important than right now when students are feeling isolated. We need to focus on keeping connections while so many of us are feeling isolated. Personally, passing along worksheets and busy-work seems insulting. Are we just encouraging more time along for students as they sit at their computers and try to keep up? How about some video hangouts or chats to check in and have conversations? Isn’t that what we all need right now?
I know we need to provide learning opportunities for students and families, but we need to think carefully about what this could and should look like. It should not be business as usual and just moved online. I even heard about one private school that was asking kids to get in their uniforms at home and be in uniform for virtual classes…really?
A Story From Another Superhero Mom
In case it’s helpful, here is feedback on remote learning from a parent’s point of view and a recommendation.
My 3rd grader has had 4 days of remote learning (private school, end of school year is June 5th no matter what) and it has been very hard for the following reasons:
1. Overwhelming – too many assignments from various teachers and even short assignments take a long time because of technology involved. My son’s teachers are trying to recreate a full school day at home and even send morning work…
2. Links to assignments don’t work or teachers’ directions to assignments are not clear.
3. Technical issues with using apps and sites we have not used before.
4. I have to sit next to my child non-stop to help navigate various tools such as Zoom, Google hangouts, Gmail, Google classroom, Padlet, and more.
5. My son doesn’t see me as a teacher. Helping him is painful for both of us, but he can’t do all of the things on his own.
6. I am concerned about my son’s vision because of the amount of time he has to be in front of a computer to do school work.
We are both stressed. I emailed the teachers and told them we will do what we can. They are working very hard to create content but I think parents can’t be expected to teach their kids at home now.
Here is what I recommend for elementary schools:
1. Teachers provide families with optional lessons/activities to do and encourage independent and family reading, board games, science experiments, watching a nature program/cooking as a family, etc.
2. The above + one “must do” task for each subject per day.
We Can Learn From Other Countries Ahead of Us On This
Just as we are learning more about the virus and how to handle it from a health standpoint, we can also learn from teachers and families who have been trying to make sense of how this works from an educational standpoint. I have been saying less is more from Day 1…Please listen to this mom from Israel below. I think many will be able to identify with her.
To My Colleagues In School Administration
Please be thoughtful about this. No one has experience with anything like this. Take it slow. Keep your kids and families connected with your teachers and don’t add to the stress by having unreal expectations for staff or students. Get together with other local districts and come up with a unified plan that supports all of our students.