Tag Archives: remote learning

“I’m Bored:” Parenting in the Age of Remote Learning

My grand daughter gobbles down her PBN (peanut butter and Nutella) sandwich and runs to be on time for school, well, she slides over to the computer, puts on her earphones and joins her class.

I interview her.  She misses her classmates; she says it’s hard to concentrate. What does she like best: soccer practice in the evening, following a video of practicing her dribbling skills, and, she complains, “I’m bored.”

How often have you heard that from your kids?

For the last few weeks parents have been in a unique position; they have been able to both observe the behavior of their children: their mood swings, frustration, anger, the impact of remote learning and “sheltering in place.”

Websites are offering advice on how to assist your kids and yourself in this new world (See NYTimes article here.)

Down the road researchers and journalists will be taking a deep dive into this unparalleled piece of history.

Some of the research is straightforward, comparing data from 2019 and 2021,

  • Grades 3-8 standardized test scores
  • Grades on Regents Examinations, SAT, ACT
  • Number of students who logged in per day
  • Attendance
  • Availability of online devices

At the end of the day I suspect the data points, those above and others will expose what we already know: you can track student achievement by parent income and education, although schools with similar levels of poverty indices may experience differing levels of success. What did they do differently from similar schools?

At the teacher side of the teaching/learning continuum

  • Age of the teacher
  • Experience of the teacher

Are younger teachers, who we expect to be more facile with technology more effective?  Are experienced teachers better able to connect with students?

When the “all clear” sounds remote learning or whatever we choose to call it will not disappear, schools will begin to embed a continuum of traditional classroom instruction with iterations of remote learning.

Research should not be based solely on data points; parents are participant-observers in the process.

In the field of sociology the term participant-observer means a method in which the observer participates in the daily life of the people under study. Parents are not sociologists or researchers; however, they are participating intimately with the subjects of the students: their children.

While kids are bored parents are frustrated, combining work from home and “participating” in remote learning is overwhelming.

This is really hard.

What’s amazing to me is how consistent this struggle is among every parent I talk to. The texts and social media posts bouncing around my circle all echo each other. We feel like we’re failing at both. Our kids don’t just need us — they need more of us. Our kids are acting out; abandoning the routines they already had, dropping naps, sleeping less, doing less — except for jumping on top of their parents, which is happening much more. We’re letting them watch far greater amounts of screen time than we ever thought we’d tolerate. Forget homeschooling success — most of us are struggling to get our kids to do the basics that would have accounted for a Saturday-morning routine before this pandemic.

Are some parents more effective in merging work and their child’s remote learning?

While it’s only been three or so weeks why haven’t so many parents been able to merge work and school?

What’s working and not working?

Are you able to connect and share with other parents?

Are the remote lessons from your child’ school effective? What suggestions would you make to make the lessons more engaging for your children?

As a parent: what are you learning?

The journalists and researchers shouldn’t base their studies solely on data points; they must include parents, who are fully engaged in the process.

If we are to learn from crises we have to move foreword, not return to the past, and parents must play a role in shaping the future of teaching and learning in school  and remotely.

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