I spoke to a teacher in a school district that I worked with yesterday. He said, “I just don’t know if I should try again with my students. It seems that a lot of people on the internet have already done it, and I’ve read a few blog posts that really criticized it.”
I asked her, “Well, how did it work for you and your students the first time?”
“It was great,” she said. “The children enjoyed it and want to do it again. But a lot of people think it’s all fun and play, not necessarily any substance. “
I asked again, “Well, what do you think? Did it have substance and purpose in your class? “
“Yes, the children were engaged and excited to learn. It was fun, but it also had a purpose. “
I happily left the conversation that we had talked about, but was also annoyed that others who were not in their class tried to stop them from trying something new (and valuable in their minds) with their students. Actually, I was a little angry.
At first I was upset with the people who told her what would work (and what wouldn’t). Then I was angry with myself for making the same judgment when I compared my own children’s distance learning experiences. It was so easy to complain, and it was much more difficult to put yourself in the situation.
I’ve seen a lot of blog posts, articles and videos where people decide what works for everyone in our current situation. And although I respect the opinion of everyone who shares their thoughts online, I’m a little tired of the fact that teachers, school leaders and people trying to do the distance learning / learning work in an emergency are judged.
Every situation at the moment is different. Sharing what works is effective. It is not effective to tell people that there is only one right way to teach / learn. Share more. Assess less.
There seems to be a big misunderstanding that if something was done before and it didn’t work in a classroom, it won’t work. Or if something has only been made personally for five years and has not been tried “online”, it is not effective.
If you’re a teacher, school principal, or parent and try something new to help your kids and students learn better, that’s great! Don’t let anyone tell you it won’t work, and you shouldn’t give it a try, and it has been done before.
We seem to forget that there is this huge continuum that we are all on. Some of us jump in different places and some experiment with different things, and some of us don’t know everything that has been done in other schools before.
There is also a huge continuum that schools, families and students are currently in when it comes to the pandemic. Some parents may want their children to be online with their teachers all day without realizing that this is causing major justice problems for families who cannot do this, or for teachers whose lives are currently being turned upside down.
We have to stretch out and ask questions. We have to be sensitive and start with a listening focus.
Similarly, there are some parents who say that they do not want their children to teach online right now without understanding that some children need this structure and connections to their classmates and teachers.
We have to understand that this affects us all in very different ways, and there is no way / thing / tool / strategy / structure that works for every situation.
(Note: there was never a right way that would work for every situation).
There is no board of directors that can decide what works and what doesn’t. There is no expert who can say, “Well, that won’t work in your classroom,” because he doesn’t know your classroom. You don’t know your children. You do not know your circumstances.
I wish we would spend less time discussing what’s the best way to do things and more time sharing and celebrating what’s happening in our schools.
Because so much good happens in a desperate situation.
Don’t let others stop you from trying something new in your class or school. Don’t let people’s opinions who knows better prevent you from doing things that might work.
If it is a new idea for you and your students and works with your class, it is worth trying it out.
The only people who can decide what works are the people who actually do the job. Those who teach, lead, create, share and learn.
thank you for sharing
Last week, hundreds of teachers, leaders, and parents filled out a simple Google form to share how their current remote emergency learning situation works. We have gathered all this information and shared the structures, strategies and tools that many of you have just shared.
Then we shared them in a series of free webinars (linked below).
It is not a perfect list. It is definitely not the only structures / strategies / tools that are currently working. But it is a start. Let’s continue to share!
K-2: Pandemic Education – What is currently working in distance learning (as shared by teachers, leaders, and parents around the world)?
3-5: Pandemic Education – What is currently working in distance learning (as shared by teachers, leaders and parents around the world)?
6-8: Pandemic Pedagogy – What is currently working in remote emergency learning (as shared by teachers, managers, and parents around the world)?
9-12: Pandemic Education – What is currently working in distance learning (as shared by teachers, leaders and parents around the world)?
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