The world has changed exponentially in the past few months due to COVID-19. The virus has affected our everyday lives. From where we work to how we interact with one another, go to the market, or even take a walk outside. This has also impacted our educational system. Back to school season is here. The Department of Education (DOE), teachers and parents are concerned with student safety. Is teaching while remote a viable option?
In states like Arizona and Georgia, students are already back in school. The federal government and Center for Disease Control (CDC) have provided guidelines on how to safely reopen. The Department of Health Services (DHS) are setting public health benchmarks that will affect school reopening options in individual states. Health benchmarks are based on data including, but not limited to, the decrease or increase of infections. Some schools are offering full-time distance learning, with teachers working remotely. Others may offer a hybrid of distance learning and in-person classes.
55 million students in the United States have been affected by school closures due to COVID-19. In early Spring of 2020, students transitioned to distance learning and teachers altered their materials to meet the circumstances. Lack of direction or preparation time affected and may continue to affect children’s opportunity to learn.
A survey of 477 school districts found that, “far too many schools are leaving learning to chance.” Only one in three school districts expect teachers to teach lesson plans, ensure the engagement of students and monitor student’s progress.
Brown University, University of Virginia and NWEA projected their findings on learning in a study. It found students “are likely to return in fall 2020 with approximately 63-68% of the learning gains in reading,” while learning gains in math came in between 37-50%. These projections were relative to a typical school year.
These statistics show that changes need to be made in the education children receive. Teachers and parents need to teach and support students to ensure they thrive both academically and socially.
According to Edutopia, an online resource for educators, there are a number of strategies teachers working remotely should utilize to get their students on the right track for distance learning.
The checklist should include platforms, links, emails, web sites, discussion boards and anything else students will need for that specific class. Teachers should ask students to submit assignments the same way, in the same location, once completed. To ensure everyone is on the same page, teachers should send the checklist during the first week of school and reach out to their class/classes asking if there’s any clarification needed.
At the beginning of each trimester or semester teachers should provide students with an overview of assignments along with due dates. This will allow students to see what is expected of them for the specific period.
In-person learning allows teachers to create different lesson plans that are unique. The goal of any lesson plan is to keep students engaged. One of the ways teachers can do this is changing their lesson plan’s format. In distance learning, this may cause confusion and prohibit students from completing projects. Teachers can keep things simple and streamlined by having a few consistent lesson styles.
Once a lesson plan is completed, teachers should do a dry run before handing it off to students. This way teachers can make sure their directions are clear, no steps and/or information is missing.
Most states won’t be offering regular classes for distance learning. This will limit student interaction. To foster student relationships, create a few projects throughout the year where students can work together. There are a variety of platforms available that have breakout features. Breakout features allow students the opportunity to create separate rooms to discuss and work on projects together.
Teachers and parents should touch base frequently during distance learning. Providing set times of when teachers are available to speak to parents is imperative. Ensuring there is open communication to ask any questions and/or voice any concerns is important on both fronts.
How we do anything these days has drastically changed due to COVID-19. Every facet of our lives has been affected, up to and including how children will be “going” back to school. Providing the best education is of utmost importance. No matter what educational plan is available state by state, education begins at home. Outside of the typical curriculum, children are learning that, in life things don’t always go as planned. Seeing adults overcome the obstacles life puts in front of them is another learning opportunity.