As both an educator and a parent, the past four months have been both frustrating and challenging on many levels. While most involved did the best they could to “go with the flow,” reflecting on the educational experiences over these months is not easy. The following is an open letter to schools all over the world….
The last months of the school year have been difficult for all of us. Thank you for the efforts you made to ensure that the students were able to continue their education. Now that the school year is over, we must all be looking towards September. This is the time to ensure that the school is prepared for any learning scenario. There are three months until the new school year begins. I urge you to think about the following issues…
- Those poor teachers – The transition to online learning was not easy for anyone, especially for the teachers. My son’s teachers were given Zoom access and were told to figure out what to do. The lack of teacher training and preparation led to hours of lost learning time, and frustrations on all sides. It seems that at least some form of online learning is here to stay. Our teachers need to be better prepared. Now is the time to make sure they receive the proper training needed to make online classes work. Proper online training is more than just a video on how to use Zoom. There are so many differences in pedagogy, methodology, and management that must be considered. If the school cannot provide this training internally, there is no shame in seeking outside help. There are several companies that provide teacher training and support. Be fair to your staff!
- Students are not robots – Before my kids started learning online, I always appreciated how their teachers always tried to make sure that their learning needs were being met. It made me happy that the teacher was always available by phone or WhatsApp when issues came up. Since they switched to online learning, I must say that it seems like the individualized needs of the students have sometimes been forgotten. My kids just cannot continue to spend 8-9 hours a day on Zoom. Online learning turned my kids into zombies! To make things even worse, every teacher assigned what seemed like hours of homework. There were days when my 10th grader was up until 1 AM doing homework! The kids are not robots and they cannot be treated as such. We all understand that the transition to online learning happened with no warning, but more consideration needs to be given to ensure that the welfare of the children is a top priority. The teachers need to make sure that the individualized attention that they were giving to the students, continues even in the online classroom. Technology has been a saving grace for all of us, but it cannot replace good teaching.
- Pick a strategy and stick to it – As a parent with children in two divisions of your school, I spent the past four months trying to navigate the messages, meetings, and communications that the school shared. I realize that because the building is closed, these types of messages are important, but there must be a better way. With so many emails, you are raising the probability that I will miss something important. I know that many schools use LMS platforms or daily newsletters to streamline the communications process. One morning, I woke up to 23 school related messages. It took me more than an hour to go through all the messages, and most of the information was not even relevant. The parents and the school need to be partners throughout this process. If communication is more efficient, then we can better help our students and children. At the end of the day, it does not really matter how messages are sent, as long as it does not become overwhelming. I also had times when I was not sure how to contact my son’s teachers. Some preferred email, some WhatsApp, some Gchat…. It would help a lot if the school would choose one platform.
Anyone who has been through the past four months knows that this has not been an easy time for any of us. Speaking for all of the parents, I can say that we are extremely grateful for the efforts you did make to ensure that learning could continue. Now that we have a chance to breathe, we just want to make sure that we are all doing what we can to ensure that our students and children have the best chance at success.