Teachers around the country are struggling with distance learning? They are being stretched too thin between face to face and virtual learners, while still being asked to deliver the same, if not, higher quality of instruction that they delivered before schools had to drastically change. Today, I have a guest blogger who will offer a solution, a way to save distance learning, teachers, students and their families. It is called flipped classrooms.
The night before we were to start distance learning, the school had finally emailed us the schedule. Every day at 9:00 the kids would go through circle time and get directions for the day. Then at 2, we would all meet up again on a Zoom call to check-in and report how they did in the day’s distance learning activities and receive guidance on tweaking the daily task for our particular kid.
The school gave us 12-hour notice and expected us to be able to make that work. But at 9 and 2 every day both my husband and I had work. This distance learning schedule was impossible.
We are the fortunate ones: privileged enough to be able to walk away from the distance learning system, confident enough to homeschool despite our working hours, with a child young enough to not be beholden to the bell schedule.
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Distance Learning for Older Kids
Older kids have it worse with distance learning. They are expected to follow the bell schedule over video chat, so parents need a computer for each child and a stable enough internet connection to handle multiple devices streaming non-stop-- an impossibility for most.
Why are we doing distance learning this way?
Because the current school system insists on treating teachers like children.
When I was teaching high school math, I noticed the administration of the school did not like the idea of teachers working from home in any capacity.
Making lesson plans? Do it at your desk! Grading? Don’t take that home either! Need to do some training? That will be in the cafeteria for everyone, even if you don’t need that particular information.
Despite knowing teachers spend hours of their own time coming up with lessons and doing things for their class, they were never trusted to be working unless the administration was standing over their shoulder watching.
Pandemic Distance Learning
In the pandemic, this has manifested itself as distance learning lessons that require the teachers to teach from their desk at school to the bell schedule. Otherwise, how is the school to know if these professionals are actually doing their jobs?
But, that isn’t all that’s a problem in this distance learning reality.
For all our school’s insistence on “Learning” as the most important thing, we actually grade students on their time in the classroom.
Schools are funded by headcount per class.
That means if a student misses a day of class, the school is not compensated for that day. Then, if the student’s missed class time causes them to fail a standardized test, the school could lose further funding or the teacher could lose standing.
It is understandable schools really want to track their students’ time in the classroom, but school isn’t supposed to be daycare. It is meant to teach students the skills they need to function in the real world as adults-- at least that is what we are told.
Most of what people actually learn happens outside of the classroom. We practice our times tables at the kitchen table. Life skills, like cooking and baking, solidify fractions in our minds. Documentaries watched and discussed, at home, leave a more lasting impression than the entirety of 9th-grade history class.