7 Takeaways From One School’s Experiences With Distance Learning | Edutopia
As an educator, one of my favorite online forums is Edutopia (edutopia.org). While I enjoy multiple professional online journals, this one tends to really put out the good stuff for the aspiring teaching professional and parent "in the know of all things education."
As a science educator, I span the views and social reactions to help gauge our country's job of educating the masses. Each day is a mixed bag of individuals thinking their way through the day to stay healthy through this disease, and then those who interact with health science as an inscription on a magic genie bottle. The former considers being upwind versus downwind to other people. They understand "6 feet" is not a magical number, but a relative term. It may actually mean less distance between well masked and disinfected people, and a football field from the unmasked family, with the feverish kid,.. who just entered the restaurant!
(BTW, genie bottle or not, I will strongly encourage 6 feet is a good minimum for all.)
So,.. looking to the fall. What has been the best of our reactions to COVID? We need to consider these best practices of the past few months. Personally, I hope those are the policies and procedures we will likely see in the states in the immediate future. And, I hope they are traded for better policy as we continue to learn more.
Looking to Mary Davenports synopsis, #1 and #2 on her list, are not the "6 foot separation" or "wear masks" we have become accustomed to in our new normal. What are they??
Teamwork between schools and agencies (with solidarity) and communication. Awesome! In my opinion, teamwork and communication are in the top two list of our best science teachers’ top three list.* Now, do we need the separation and masks, of course, but without working together and disseminating the ever-morphing battle plan effectively, they may not matter much to really overcome this disease.
One change I would suggest? Move #7 to #3. How about to the #1 spot? People. People have to be #1. And, not ourselves first, but others. It’s a higher motivation tier. Also, it’s important to keep the people in front of the disease, in front of the machine we're building to battle this thing. Not the other way around, or we risk losing focus and drive. People have to come first. It is the why.
* (For years, I thought the best thing about teaching physics was the awesome content. Now, don't get me wrong, the physics content is awesome, but it loses its value without individuals working together to solve problems, and finding effective (and cool) ways to get the word out. These last two make the science fun and rewarding with new opportunities to really explore physics. Then, when you realize the significance of the many individuals you are working with, and put them at the top of your equation, teaching takes on a new dimension.)
After this crazy Spring, all schools are now preparing for the fall, with everyone working to figure out what plan could survive the uncertainty. And similarly, every online educational journal is taking a stab at what the fall will look like, and offering its own two bits.
It may be helpful to think, as we are already into summer, "without the disease how would we have acted differently over the last few months in a previous year?" Through this period of pandemic, we have seen individuals who have taken new modes of operation and demonstrated the best of the human spirit. The amazing people "on the front lines." If we each have not said a prayer recently for these individuals, then we should. What are they doing today that is different, or better, from what they were doing back in March? I would suggest: improved focus on 1, 2, and 3.
And, we should also consider those "in the trenches behind the dotted white line." These are the ones behind the counters of businesses, whose owners are hoping to stay open enough to survive this disease. Considering recent events, are the owners now thinking, "how will I survive if my business is the epicenter of a couple dozen new cases?" Last weekend, across the state border, I entered an eating establishment, gauging the workers were well protected, also wearing my mask, and keeping the social distance having read the signs on the door. On the door was a sign which clearly stated to customers "No entry without masks," and another detailed designated areas for the customers. Yet, over my short stay, I watched a majority of individuals arrive without masks, and sit where they wanted. Hmm. (1) I don’t think they were putting the worker’s health in consideration, (2) they definitely missed the solidarity effort, and (3) their 2nd grade teacher would have been disappointed at their lack of ability to read a message posted on the front door.
As Americans, we can be pretty fickle. As the public deals with cabin fever, it will be important to support our schools and educators. And hope we all keep thinking as we get through this page in history.