The transition to distance learning isn’t going to be easy. There’s no doubt that this shift is going to put a lot of pressure on teachers, students, and parents. With the situation being so fluid, it’s hard to know what to expect from day-to-day. All we can do is our best.
I have a number of negative feelings toward the situation that we find ourselves in. I’m not always in agreement with some of the decisions that are being made that affect me and my students. Even still, I have to choose to look for the opportunities that are presenting themselves in this situation.
Making decisions about how to move forward isn’t easy right now. There are a lot of competing, often conflicting, directions being given. Was I supposed to turn left at the second light or take the second left after the light? I’m sure he said to go straight, but she told us to take the third exit on the roundabout. What teachers need to do now is trust in their ability to do their jobs well and make decisions confidently, knowing that they will make mistakes.
The sudden shift to distance learning presents us with an interesting opportunity: learning about digital teaching tools and how to implement them effectively. Even though we may feel like we are being thrown into this realm, it’s a good time to dip our toes into this type of learning.
I would never advocate replacing the learning experience that takes place in the classroom. The distance ed courses that I’ve taken were a struggle to get through. I do, however, advocate for the proper use of technology in the classroom. If there is a digital solution to a problem that we are tackling in class, I’m going to try to use it.
For those who tend to take a more analogue approach, this is a chance to look for effective digital replacements. With so many companies offering their products for free, there’s little risk when testing new technology. The murky waters that we’re swimming in right now will hide many lopsided strokes. This is a good thing. This is something to take advantage of. We’re also allowed to tread water during this race.
The 21st century is often equated with technology. 21st-century learning is not just about technology. It is about exercising global competencies, those five “C” words that I have a hard time remembering…communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and citizenship. It’s about changing our perspective and practices to match the reality of the globalized and digital world that we live in. What better reminder is there that we are connected to everybody else on Earth than a pandemic?
It’s okay to feel frustrated with our changed reality. It’s okay to be apprehensive about the learning curve that looks like a halfpipe you’re meant to ride with a three-wheeled skateboard. It’s okay to click on the wrong button in a program that you know nothing about because it can be corrected. It’s okay to ask questions about the things you’re uncertain about.
You’re not alone in this. Reach out.
The situation that we are currently in certainly isn’t an easy one. This is an opportunity for you to learn alongside your students if you aren’t already. Treat it as such. Embrace it, frustrations and all.