I see you, parents. My siblings with kids. My friends with kids. Strangers with kids. I see you all and I hear you all. Trying to manage work, home, and your children’s education all at once at home looks impossible. Frankly, it is impossible. I laugh so hard at your funny memes and your Instastories where you are tearing your hair out and necking the chardonnay bottle. I think that would be how I would try to cope as well. Humour and rage in equal doses. I can’t imagine the mental, physical and emotional energy required for what you have been asked to do. I know so many of you are giving it more than you’ve got right now, and in Australia, we’ve only just begun.
But at the other end of this unbelievably difficult situation are teachers. And we too are really struggling. I have never felt so stressed and anxious in all of my working life.
Here’s the issue. We can’t magically make remote learning work for everyone. There is absolutely no way we can meet all of your needs. And here’s why:
- Because what we do, as teachers, is not something you can just package up and roll out across the internet. It is complicated. It is something that most of us take very seriously and of course, we don’t expect you to be able to replicate what we do. We work hard to become better teachers every day – for your children.
- It’s about relationships. There is absolutely NO WAY remote learning is going to reproduce the community that is created by a group of learners who with their peers and teachers, learn and play together every weekday in the same space. I used to question the importance of that old dynamic and now I see it as a core tenet of education. The belonging that exists in the learning environment.
- We get that for so many of you, it would be easier to set your child down with a day full of worksheets that would keep them busy for the entire day. And we get that your education back in the eighties and nineties worked ‘just fine’ when that was what you, too did. We get that, because we too, lived it. And it didn’t feel broken then. But education doesn’t look like that anymore and quite frankly, it really shouldn’t. Education is about learning and thinking, for life. And filling out a bunch of boxes isn’t going to make kids think. It just keeps them busy. So while you might not appreciate the kind of learning experiences that are being shared with your child, and we know we aren’t going to get it right every time for every child, we are making deliberate, considered choices about what we are doing.
- We have never done this before, either. It is easy to be frustrated with your child’s teacher, especially from a distance. But please understand that they too might be finding this really difficult. They too might have kids of their own. They might be living alone, separated from colleagues, family and friends. We are learning as we go and most of us have never taught remotely before. Please be patient with us and give us time to improve. Give your child time to become more independent. Imagine a time, not far off in the distance, when things will be easier and we, including your children, will be in flow with this and potentially find ways to innovate and invigorate learning.
Here is some of the ‘stuff’ we are considering:
- How might we ensure every learner feels connected and supported?
- How might we compensate for the missing cues and prompts that teachers and peers would normally be giving learners either verbally or non-verbally in a normal classroom environment?
- How might we differentiate to meet the needs of every learner whilst also simplifying the delivery of learning experiences so that they are accessible to all?
- How might we create flexible timetables which allow families to access the learning when it is most convenient for them?
- What opportunities can we create for authentic assessment for learning?
- What is the most effective balance of synchronous and asynchronous learning for most families?
- Replicating school is unrealistic. What is the alternative best practice for our learning community?
The most important thing right now is kindness. We are doing everything we can to care for your children and you by making it work the best we can. We hear you. We see you. We will do our best!