Okay so I am going on a mini rant and an educational PD.
January 2020 found China faced with a rapidly spreading virus that will become known as the Coronavirus COVID-19. China literally shutdown and everyone was quarantined. It was a mess. Schools were closed and we as teachers were forced and thrown into this online/e-learning world.
Here is my issue I take with this: most schools are not prepared for this. Most teachers have no clue what this looks like. We live in a society where parents are ‘afraid’ of screen time because screen time at home looks a hot ass mess and they think it will apply to schools as well. So when school starts we are told to limit the amount of technology and screen time we use in class and our teaching.
Wait a minute it is the 21st century. Technology is all around us. These kids could probably operate technology in ways I didn’t even know about. Yet you are telling me to keep little Matt engaged and actively learning when all he knows is technology. Yeah okay.
I am a teacher. I am an educator. This means I have enough since, knowledge and wisdom to seek out ways to properly and effectively integrate technology into the classroom without it getting out of hand and it looking like a hot mess. I know how to implement technology to where it is an extension to learning and not a prize for learning. So I won’t turn on YouTube and let the video do the teaching. I won’t download zombies and aliens on the iPad and allow the to play this a reward. I won’t provide unlimited access to the laptop or Chromebook and not check to see what they are doing.
What technology in the classroom looks like: formal instruction.
One we are going over the ground rules. I am explaining how to properly handle the technology. I am explaining what you can and cannot do. I have set up so many teacher/parental controls, you are only allowed on what I say you are allowed. I am monitoring the usage. I am tracking the dates on the apps and websites. They are only on educational sites and apps. Teacher tested, student approved. It aligns with learning goals. It is developmentally appropriate. It is differentiated. I have formally taught a lesson and now I allow to show your learning and take responsibility.
What technology is not: turning on Youtube and letting someone else sing and teach your students. It is not handing over the iPad and say find your name or picture and “play” on the app. It is not opening the laptop/Chromebook and saying you can only access these websites.
We were thrown into online/e-learning at my school. We had not done anything that involved an iPad or laptop. My kids did not have the opportunity to experience learning with technology outside of YouTube, Starfall and ABCya. I had one student I was testing my personal iPad with.
So image telling my parents to download this app so your kid can still learn at home without your support. They were all for it in the beginning, now at week 6 going into week 7….I have about 5% of kids still completing work consistently.
My own child is doing e-learning and lord I am now teaching two grade levels. My personal class and her classes. One teacher has the brains to do a project while the rest are sending trash home as busy work.
With limited resources what can you really do? With the great firewall controlling everything you are limited to what you can actually send home that parents will have access to. I have access because I am a teacher and an expat. So I can help Elise but how can I help my kids? How can I help my kids who are learning a second language and parents are learning a second language as well. I got kids memorizing Eric Carle books to share during our video chats. I got parents telling kids what to say when they are recording themselves reading a decodable book. Not one of my parents are educator to know how to properly assist and support their child at home.
Week 7 will find us adjusting things AGAIN. The parents want this. The parents want that. What about what is best for the kids? What about what is effective learning for the kids? I can upload all the videos in the world but when the great firewall is causing the internet to be slow and when you are limited to what parents actually can access, it becomes frustrating. I can’t have everything translated because that defeats the purpose.
I am frustrated and jealous. I am jealous of those that got time to prep and plan for e-learning. I am jealous of those who will have a smooth transition because they were already implementing things inside the classroom and parents understood what was going on and the students were involved with the technology. I am jealous of those not controlled by the great firewall and can access all the educational websites. This jealously is why I am frustrated because I am not feeling very effective right now. I am frustrated because I am trying but students and parents are not participating.
Something has got to give with the state of education. Project based learning and inquiry units need to become a real thing. Technology needs to be integrated and implemented properly to where it is an extension to learning. Teachers need to be trusted to do their jobs. Parents gotta step up and support and stop complaining. Schools will never look like it did when we were in school. It is time to shift into the 21st century. We are preparing students for jobs that don’t exist yet. We are preparing students to think outside the box, problem solve, and critically think. Yet our classrooms are boxes and lack creativity. Teachers are given boxed curriculums. Limited supplies and resources. Sites like teacherspayteachers should not exist if we are honest with ourselves. Adopt-a-classroom and donors choose should not exist. If we truly valued education we would invest in education and provide unlimited resources to our schools and teachers. We won’t even touch that $250 tax credit. We spend that much in about a week. Professional development needs to improve and go beyond the box and the norm. We cannot expect our kids to rise above when we keep cutting the resources and materials to help them rise above. People who have no educational experience and knowledge and degrees should not be making education decisions. Just because you can read and write does not mean you should be a teacher. We have got to stand up and say enough is enough and take our profession back. The world is at stake. You want digital learners, you gotta provide the technology to allow it. Trust that teachers will not allow it take over the classroom. We know what we are doing and we know how to seek out the support when we don’t.