Up until Spring Break, my son attended a school not far from our house. Every night we would spend some time reviewing vocab and spelling words, maybe a little math homework, and then we would spend some time reading each night (we’ve been on a Hardy Boy’s kick since Christmas). That all changed due to the current virus situation. His campus is shut down, his teachers have been scrambling to put together some form of education to keep their students learning, and we’ve been in the trenches together. With all of that said, here are my two Bravos and one Rebuke:
Parents—Bravo, you are doing great! Don’t take this all too serious. Let’s learn together. Let’s learn how to submit assignments via cell phone pictures where our fingers are across the last answer and we have to resubmit to ensure our kiddos get full credit. Let’s not lose sleep over the question that we asked the teacher at 9:00 PM the day the assignment was due and didn’t get a response. We all know that you’re either working from home, scared and working in the line of fire via an “essential job,” or looking frantically for work due to layoffs and furloughs. That silly assignment worth 10 points isn’t worth losing sleep over. We know that you are getting 40-50 emails from all of the teachers, administrators, and support staff at the school—but remember, they’re just as scared as you are that they’re going to mess something up in this new format. If you need more help from other parents, look no farther than the Parent Support for Online Learning Facebook page.
Teachers—bravo, you were thrown in the deep end without floaties—and you are doing great. No one, parents included, are expecting you to have this all figured out. You were fully prepared to be standing in your classroom passing out high fives and a paper and pencil quizzes tomorrow. Instead, you’re basically throwing out your lessons plans for the year, completely disregarding the curriculum you’ve been following, and it’s a struggle every day to find digital replacements to ensure students are still learning what they need to know. We know that parents have a million question that are all flooding your inbox, but remember, they’re just as scared that they’re going to mess something up here too. Now is a really good time to check out some of the really helpful PLC chats around online teaching happening on twitter—and keep your head up, you’re doing great!
American Education—Unfortunately, no bravos for you during this time. You have been slow to adapt into the 21st century model, sluggish to adopt digital tools, and you have spent more time and money fighting against technology rich educational options for students than you have finding solutions for the very students who are struggling in the one-size-fits-all buildings you’ve stamped across our nation. While those adopters of online and digital tools are still employing their teachers and educating their students, your schools are closed down, your teachers are stressed out, and your parents are frazzled. I think it’s safe to say, “You missed the boat.” You missed adopting the Learning Management Systems (LMS) boat, Student Information Systems (SIS) boat, and many other boats, dinghy’s, and ferries that would have made this transition so much smoother for your teachers, parents, and students.
It is now time for districts to start asking themselves, “Are we technologically read for another COVID-19, a massive snowstorm, an earthquake, or a hurricane? Do we need to start assembling the right pieces right now for next school year?” The answer is YES! Let’s stop the thinking that only full-time online schools need an LMS because the truth is all 21st century students need a digital platform to lead their curriculum. Being a campus with a Chromebook 1:1 mandate doesn’t make you innovative or prepared. Having a high-quality digital curriculum that can be implemented in the physical classroom and easily at home is going to be vital to quality learning in the future. Let’s not miss the boat again—our students are counting on us!