Time to blog. In the midst of a year where I felt like I little productive to add to the education community, I am now in a position to do so.
I just got off a Zoom chat with my niece who teaches in China. Here is some valuable information from our conversation.
Glimpse into our future first:
- Temperature checks are the norm. They happen as you enter a grocery store, your apartment complex and your school building. This is still occurring three months into the situation in China.
- After two months of isolation, they are now seeing people moving about the community, though most wear masks of some sort.
- They never had the shortages we are experiencing. Call it what you will.
- They have been told multiple times that the school will reopen, only to have it delayed week after week.
- Plan no more than a week ahead.
Now for school issues:
- Many parents at first were concerned that education was not really taking place online, but most have now come to grips with the reality of the situation and see and support remote learning for their children. Expect resistance and pushback from parents at first. It might not be as bad in the states since parents will have the benefit of seeing how the rest of the world is coping with education already.
- Keeping regular school hours is important. Even if you teach the same course multiple times during the day, combining classes does not work because students will be attending other classes. To avoid coordination issues, you must see your classes at your regularly scheduled times online.
- See your classes face to face via Zoom or some other such medium at least once a week if not daily. Students need that. The learning must be real. Seeing faces makes it more real.
- Some parents may opt their children out of this learning platform. That is administration’s issue to deal with. Report it, but spend your time with the students who are signed in to learn. Be there for them rather than chasing students you cannot catch. It’s the same group you were have trouble reaching in the regular classroom.
- There will be pleasant surprises. Some students who were tuned out at school now have a parent supervisor making certain they attend to their schooling. It will be so nice to have them being part of the learning process.
- Set up assignments no more than a week at a time. Some students will go ahead and it will be impossible for you to keep ahead, current and play catch up all at the same time.
- If students do not begin when the classes begin, it will be nearly impossible for them to catch up. Make certain the start times are sent out loud and clear!
- With all that said, stay positive and flexible. Embrace the learning you are doing and celebrate the initiative your learners are taking.
- Students who did not take action during class will not likely take action under these new circumstances. Teach those who are there to learn.
- Begin with as much structure as you can and maintain that structure. Try not to make changes along the way if you can help it.
- Teaching a course at the same time as teaching a learning platform is nearly impossible. Get the platform in place first. That should be easy for my students as their science and language arts teachers have done such a good job running their classes through Canvas for the past couple years. I hope you are similarly situated. If you are not in that position, get the platform set first so students know how to communicate and retrieve information.
- Thought you weren’t a technology teacher? Think again.
- Day by day changes will happen. Week by week changes will happen. My niece has seen reopening dates announced, reschedule and then cancelled. They play it week by week, but they have a routine and classes are in session. We can and will do likewise.
Now, with all that said, be safe. Love yourself.
I don’t know about you, but I am feeling overwhelmed and a bit depressed. I think this is probably normal — whatever that means these days. What I do know for certain is that we need one another. I can’t high-five you or give you a hug (not that I’m big on that under normal circumstances) or shake your hand, but please know, I want to help you and I want to help my learners. Be safe. Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face. Live, love, math — in that order!!
Thank you Sara for sharing these things. SO grateful for teachers like your niece from other counties that we can learn from.
Being from a not 1 to 1 school, where 6 siblings might share 1 device, I am unsure how keeping regular class times will work. Could we run make up sessions later in the evening, or hold the same class two days in a row to deal with this problem??
What are your thoughts?
I would do just one or two days a week at set times then for the face to face. Release all Sunday evening for the coming week is what she suggested regardless.