Facing challenges of online classrooms
Due to social distancing, schools are holding classes online across the nation. Teachers are using technology like Zoom conferencing, google classroom, and more.
How does this look for the families and students at home? Some schools may not be taking into consideration that not every home has computers, wi-fi or high speed internet. It could be difficult for people who don’t have computers, internet, or wi-fi because schools provide those types of things too.
Online schooling for younger children could be difficult because young children require a lot of attention and adult supervision, and in these times, their parents may be working from home also on the only computer the household has, or not have time to devote to the kids’ school, because they are also working at the kitchen table.
Many teachers are not used to this remote learning, so even great, experienced teachers are not experts at creating online classes. Students with special needs are possibly the hardest to teach with the online schooling because they require a more hands on way of learning.
“We have done ZOOM classes, which are working well with most students,” said Cindy Sangenito, Grace Prep’s teacher who helps students with learning disabilities. “A beginning student, especially if young, seems to do better when we’re in the room together because we use lots of manipulatives, and that doesn’t happen easily with online instruction.”
Some students are struggling to get in the routine of an online class schedule. Some kids miss school life. It is difficult for students, especially in certain subjects, to have support from their teachers like they used to.
On the other hand, some students enjoy virtual learning because they can work at their own pace, and are self-motivated enough to work well online. Still others struggle because they get easily distracted or don’t completely understand the assignments.
On the schools’ behalf, planning and preparing for remote learning is harder than it sounds. Some schools scrambled to get remote learning lessons in place. In our school, our administrators hosted a four-hour seminar for teachers explaining how to use google classroom. Then teachers here had one week right after spring break to practice and prepare online lessons. About 90% of our teachers had never used this technology or approach before.
“I think ZOOM and Google Classroom have real potential for improved communication with my parents, as well as reinforcement of classroom learning,” said Sangenito. “Once I was able to learn the basics, and I mean the BASICS, I really started to see the potential in offering my students a different way of instruction. Most of my more advanced students have enjoyed doing our class online, and I’ve seen improved focus. The downside has been the challenges of heavy online traffic, like frozen participants on ZOOM, which does happen frequently.”
Many districts weren’t ready for remote learning when Coronavirus closed schools down. Remote learning is very challenging and difficult for low-income students. Some parents and students don’t have the materials needed for virtual learning. Special-ed parents are very concerned.
School districts are concerned about the well-being of teachers, and how to protect their best interests. Teachers, parents, and students are still trying to adapt to remote learning, but challenges keep coming up and becoming more clear. Remote learning is a difficult task. Big cities had to prepare for remote learning differently than smaller cities. Now on a larger scale, school districts, counties, states and even countries are handling remote learning differently.
Counties are using websites and things to support access to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. For more on this, https://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/education/article241387481.html.
Experts say in order to work from home well, 1. Start with the right equipment 2. Start the day right, just as you were going into school/work 3. Find the right balance between work and time off. 4. Take a normal lunch break and stay on schedule. 5. Communicate with others: Check in frequently with your teachers and classmates, get your normal exercise and stay on a routine. 6. Manage your time with learning, working, and playing.
Students in Albania and Belgium are facing curfews (Can’t leave their homes after 1 pm in Albania, and 6 pm in Belgium, and they are also finishing their school year completely online).
We are not alone. The whole world is in this together. Let’s reach out to those around us to see how we can help. Perhaps, this isolating disease could actually bring us unity.