I promise this is my last column about remote learning.
As I write this column, teachers are practically giddy (my male colleagues will appreciate that adjective) about our students coming back, in person. We are really happy.
Feeling the need to decompress and clear my head, I made a list of all the reasons remote learning doesn’t really work. Of course, we do what we can and there’s a chance some of us will have to go back to it (please pray), but none of us think it’s ideal.
The first reason it doesn’t really work is that we are all designed for human interaction. We need one another. Online learning and teaching can certainly be effective at times, but even the most attentive and disciplined learner is challenged when everything is online.
We need guidance, we need someone to check things, and we need the support of others around us. In a classroom setting, there is usually just one teacher and students learn to be problem solvers and work together when the teacher can’t attend to their needs immediately.
Indeed, even on Google Classroom, students will post questions about an assignment. Knowing they have not taken their time to read the directions, I simply ignore it. Almost always, other students will chime in with advice and assistance. They work together and it’s something I like to call the “one-room schoolhouse cooperative.”
After all, the teacher is only one person.
Another reason remote learning often fails is because of the dynamic at home. You have parents, God bless ‘em, who have had to sacrifice and change their work schedules or alter their usual routines. Now they are working and also monitoring their children. It’s not easy.
Kids get used to having their parents right there. Because parents aren’t keen on how classrooms work, they often feel they need to sit with their children while work is completed. This is a good thing and a bad thing.
With someone right there, kids get immediate feedback. However, they get very used to having someone right beside them while they work, and when parents are unable to do this, kids aren’t motivated. Many of them resort to rushing through work and just getting it finished.
I often tell parents to adopt a strategy for homework. Ask the kids to read directions aloud. Then, have them tell you what they think they are supposed to do on the assignment. Look it over yourself, as the parent, and tell them to finish a few problems or get started. Choose a point for the student to stop working and come back to check in, just to make sure they are on the right track.
This strategy will help ween the kiddo off of having parents right there with them. It will also foster independence.
File that in your “advice from the old fogey teacher” folder. It might help you later.
Yes, computers are designed for instant gratification. Video games. Bing bing, boom boom. Over and done. So, kids often feel the urge to fly through work when it’s online. It’s understandable.
Parents have told me throughout the pandemic that their kiddo “just wants to get it done.” Remote learning work is not of the same quality as in-person work.
As teachers, we face a lot of challenges. Those of use who are so hell bent on looking good, impressing the community and self-promoting either pile on the work for those parents complaining about a small work load, or we slack off and “dumb down” things when parents complain about too much work.
As with recent events, we succumb to mob mentality and the “zeal without knowledge” group ruling the roost.
Most of us who have been in the profession are more worried about respect and doing the right thing for kids. Sorry if that steps on toes, and I’m not trying to sound like a sanctimonious ol’ cuss. There comes a time in one’s career when the opinion of others is not a concern.
Don’t get me wrong. Teachers are “on” all the time. We are watched by the community and due to a number of scumbags who happen to be in our profession, our images have gotten tarnished over recent years.
Ours has become a highly disrespected profession, and it is quite damaging to our morale. So, if you are one of those teachers who is worried about looking flashy and trendy or one who works hard on being accepted and revered, I completely understand your motivation. I do not think you are a bad person, nor do I look down my judgmental nose at you. If you are in that spot, I blame the public.
However, I do urge all teachers to remember who the expert and professional is in this situation. Am I right? Don’t forget who knows their stuff. Furthermore, remember why you got into this profession in the first place.
As I end this column, I’d like to call you all to action. I’m constantly hearing the blurb on Bott Radio about the town of Ste. Genevieve, Mo. Back in 1993, church bells rang at a certain time each day. When they heard the bells, people would stop and pray.
Guess what? The town was spared of the raging flood waters that threatened it.
So, what if we start doing that? I’m not sure about the bells, but could we all pledge to set our phone alarms for a certain time each day?
Let’s pray as a community, in “corporate prayer,” that we have an end to this virus, that our country is united once again, and that our kiddos stay healthy and in school.
Hey, it worked for Ste. Genevieve.