April 3, 2020
Distance Learning. This was a term I was familiar with, but I had no idea of the complexities that delivering such a program would entail. The Bacich teachers and I are learning more and more about it every day and they are working around the clock to figure out how to educate our students from afar.
As teachers, we have long spoken about giving our students deeper learning experiences, making them more independent, and guiding them to be more intrinsic learners and less reliant on adults to provide interesting things to learn about. I am understanding and realizing that this distance learning might provide us with just such an opportunity.
Doing school at home vs. doing school at school just can’t look the same or offer the same learning experience. The tightly structured, time in seat approach and the multiple distractions of 20+ other classmates, are part of the typical classroom learning experience. These are probably not present in your homes.
Families are sharing with me that they are all-over-the map in terms of how successful or challenging this new way of “doing school” is and what is happening in their homes. For some, they have firm structures and systems in place. Their sons and daughters have responded to the new demands. For others, it is challenging for a myriad of reasons: One or both parents are still working outside the home. There is limited space to find quiet. Parents can’t be of assistance because they are caring for other family members or juggling their own jobs from home. Their child is not cooperating. This new learning is affecting all our families in very different ways.
I offer this advice: Each week, your child now has a classroom schedule to follow. Give your children a choice over their learning to help build intrinsic motivation. Review the daily lessons each day but allow your child to choose the order of what assignments to do. Allow your child to take body breaks between assignments. Encourage independence whenever possible. And if your son or daughter does not complete all their assignments each day, please don’t worry.
Build into the day some time for movement and exploration. Keep a list of things your child wants to learn about in a deeper way. (Mystery Doug offers great ideas!). Each day allow your son or daughter an opportunity to take that idea and run with it. Your child can draw a picture, create a paper bag puppet show or a dance move to explain a concept, or write a short report, if that’s their mode of learning. Perhaps, they can share their new found knowledge with the entire family at dinner or over breakfast the next day. Allow your child space to be creative and multiple opportunities to think critically.
As we work hard to get better at this alternative platform for learning, we must realize that we cannot “fool ourselves” into thinking that we are sharing in traditional school days. While we all wish that the children were with us in person and in their classrooms, we have to make the best of this unprecedented situation. Authentic learning takes place within real-world, meaningful contexts. This is our time to make this happen for our children, to the best of our abilities.
While we have only just finished Week One of our TK-Grade 4 distant learning program, we want to hear from you. I invite you to share your thoughts and ideas in this survey.
We are in this together.
Sending you warm wishes from afar, and please know that I am an email click away for any question you may have.