*Ava loves teaching. She always thought of her students as decently tech-savvy kids because they are proficient on their cell phones. But when COVID-19 forced her students into online learning, she knew many did not have access to computers other than in the classroom. The school she works for loaned out computers and iPads, trying to help as best as they could. But that didn’t solve everything. Now those students have to learn how to use these new systems. The other day, Ava spent an hour trying to help one student figure out where the homework document file was that she just saved on her computer. The school added online conference calls, trying to help. They added Zoom meetings for students to “attend” classes. This adds more to learn for students and parents already struggling. Many take it for granted everyone knows how to do these types of things. For Eva and many teachers like her, they are doing what they can to help their students figure this out. Be patient with teachers (and yourself) as we all try to get through this.
What Will This School Year Look Like?
As your child returns to school this fall, it is sure to be a different experience than any we have seen before. The very nature of the classroom environment has changed. Some students will receive their entire education online. Some will opt for the hybrid combination of homeschooling and part-time classroom education. Others will be in the classroom full time. The circumstance brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic poses a whole new set of challenges for teachers across the nation. Therefore it is vital to understand the problems they will be dealing with and have patience as they enter this uncharted territory. Please have empathy and consider the issues they are facing as they embark on the new school year. Work together with your child’s teachers to make things go as smoothly as possible.
New Challenges for Teachers This Year
There are many changes that teachers will have to face in the way they conduct their approach to meeting the needs of students and providing a top-notch education. The following are just a few ways that teachers are revising their old procedures to accommodate the needs of the new classroom model.
Implementing Web Technology
Many students have a complete understanding of how to use every facet of their smartphone. In addition, most have some computer experience as well. Still, students will need to be completely adept at how to use a computer to complete assignments. Not all students have internet access, creating a whole different problem for teachers trying to help their students. Most teachers are not tech teachers, so trying to help everyone get online, learn how to use their computers, learn how to do conference calls, and more, creates a whole new dimension to these issues.
Student Time Management
In a structured classroom environment, students adapt to the time management that is built into the system. In a home learning situation, all that changes. Many students who did well in the classroom find that they can’t manage their own time effectively, and some who didn’t excel in the classroom find that the lack of constraint is more conducive to the way they learn. Teachers will need to be open to guiding students to find a schedule that works for them.
Teachers are finding that as more students learn from home, it is beneficial to give constructive feedback and a chance to improve the project, rather than a grade right off the bat. This gives the student more flexibility to produce quality work, even though they are facing challenges in the way they are used to learning. Focusing on specific assignments, even if they are fewer than they would be in a traditional classroom, helps students understand the material thoroughly and stay motivated.
Adapting the Curriculum to Online Learning
Even students and teachers who are computer savvy discovered last spring that you can’t just jump right into online schooling. Resources, notes, and assignments need to be uploaded to the classroom management platform, and this takes time. Furthermore, the students need to learn how to access the curricula and use it correctly. One great benefit of this hurdle is that it will better prepare students for post-secondary education, as many college and trade school students take online courses.
As we enter the new school year, students, parents, and teachers must work together to make the new learning environment the best it can be. It will take patience, understanding, and special attention in certain areas. Our teachers and students can adapt if we have patience with the learning process they are all going through.
* Ava and her story are fictional but the real stories being told by teachers and parents are similar