Searching for Normalcy in a Chaotic World: Teaching, Learning and Living at a Distance

We have routines, our early morning ablutions, our route to work, shopping, job responsibilities, family responsibilities, now, remote working, remote interactions, and for children the abnormality is unsettling.

Being cooped up in an apartment, not being able to visit friends, not being able to interact with my teachers, “I feel like I’m being punished.”

From a teacher’s perspective: how do I connect with my kids, how can my “teaching” be engaging?  I can’t look over Juan’s shoulder and whisper, “…try that again … how did you get that answer?” You can’t see that light bulb going off, “Oh, yes, I see now,” you can’t give a thumbs up at just the right time, or, a frown.

Is Maria drifting off, is her attention wandering, I don’t know.

Remote learning is remote, it’s far away and it lacks the emotional connection.

The standardized grades 3 – 8 tests are gone, no more test prep, you can follow the curriculum: Is there curriculum to follow? Or, are we talking about the reading and math “packages” that your school is using?

Can you switch to a curriculum designed for online use?

An online source from Finland gets high marks:  https://koulu.me/.

EngageNY.org provides curriculum modules for every grade and every topic on the grade.

Randi Weingarten, the President of the American Federation of Teachers, suggests capstone projects, a project-based learning approach,

“There is a way teachers can help students sum up their academic progress, help kids focus, and bring closure to the year.”

“Our capstone plan gives teachers the option and latitude to work with their students on a specific project alongside other activities and assessments to create engagement and demonstrate learning. https://www.aft.org/press-release/afts-weingarten-launches-capstone-proposal-complete-school-year-amid”

On the other hand maybe we should keep everything as simple as possible, for students as well as teachers.

While we worry about our students we worry about ourselves and our families.

We’re told to close our doors, hunker down and wait for the “all clear.”  Should we shop online?  Make quick trips to the super market or pharmacy?  Do we have an exercise regimen?  Is it safe to take long walks? To walk up and down the staircases in my building?  Do I take alcohol wipes wherever I go?

Who do I listen to?

If you’re an avid consumer of the news, the visual representations are frightening

Is density deadly?

Concerns about density were … at the forefront as New York officials discussed the spread of the virus in increasingly alarmed tones. New York City is now among the worst hot spots in the world: The city now has more coronavirus cases per capita than Italy, the world’s epicenter of the virus outside of China, where it originated.

 In the midst of anxiety in some and fear in others teachers and school leaders try and support students and each other. A principal began the day with an online school leadership team meeting; each has received over 100 emails from teachers with questions, especially from teachers of students with disabilities.

Education Next  gives straightforward suggestions to school leaders,

How should school leaders think about the massive task they’re facing?

  There are three overriding principles that can help school leaders as they figure this out, and they’re really super simple.

 The first is to just be calm and pause. That sounds like a simple recommendation, but we all understand that school’s not the most important thing right now, safety is.

 The second is to be straightforward and clear. People have heightened same way that they might otherwise be able to. So the more that school leaders can be straightforward and clear with their guidance and recommendations for families, it’s going to be helpful.

 And the third is to try to create simple solutions. In a crisis situation, simple technology is the best technology. So be careful in trying to teach faculty new skills during a time of crisis. They’ll be less able to adapt and less able to process information themselves.

 Principals are struggling to find online tools to track teacher work, some teachers are creative, some waiting for instructions, are teachers interacting on a grade, interacting with all other teachers interacting with their students?

We are tip-toeing into a new world, a world that may be with us for weeks, or months, it may be the new normal for many months.

Remember: exercise, yoga, meditation, if you’re religious attends online services; the psychological toll can be devastating.

Stay Safe

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