As a teacher and a mom, I have been very conflicted about my thoughts on this new forced online learning. I feel pulled in so many directions on what is “best” for our kids and learners. Do I have a lot of questions? Yes! Do I have any of the answers? Nope!
First, I started by looking at the school calendar. Using my school as a reference, I have ten weeks left of school. In that ten weeks, I had a week of Spring Break, a week of state standardized testing, a week (or two) of other standardized testing, and another week if I add up all the other random days off. This means students are missing a total of 5-6 weeks of instruction. This made me feel better…I hope it does the same for you!
Right now, teachers are doing a mixture of online resources and packets that parents are picking up. The problem with this is that not all students have access to the internet and/or devices. Also, putting together packets and having parents pick them up does not guarantee students are learning. These two options work well for students that come from homes that have access to the internet, devices, and someone who can teach the material being sent home (but it’s still not a guarantee). These two options are not going to work well for students without the internet or devices. These options are not easy for students who have an IEP (individual educational plan), are English-Language Learners, or who receive more individualized support by someone who is not their teacher during the school day.
This whole situation makes me worried that the achievement gap that already exists is just going to widen.
As much as I want to be against packets, google classroom, and continuing the school year via online learning, I do have some students who have reached out to me almost begging for things to do. Some students love packets. There are kids at home right now who want to get their hands on something educational. It might help kids feel that there is still some routine in their daily lives.
My first wish would be that we find a cure for COVID-19, and for everyone to have access to it. This wish is a little lofty, so I will also tell you my second wish–the one more specific to this post.
I wish all schools were able to reach students both with and without access to the internet. I wish the message to parents was that everything is optional. I wish schools made it clear that nothing would be graded, and none of the work would affect report cards or GPAs. I wish parents knew that they were the most amazing people ever and that they can do what’s best for their kids, even if that means spending hours upon hours watching Netflix and snuggling.
At the end of this, I want parents to know the packets that were sent home and the google doc your kids were asked to complete are far less important than your family’s physical and mental health.