I don’t normally talk about teaching on this blog, but it’s mine and I can do what I want so here it is.
We are already in our third week of teaching with covid still making its way through our world. It doesn’t appear to be stopping in the short run and so this is the new normal for now. It isn’t great. But it’s something.
At first I was devastated that we were not going to go back to school in person. I love the first day of school. I love being back in my classroom. I love meeting my new students. I love coffee and conversation with my teacher friends. I didn’t really get any of that. But there is nothing I can do about it and many people missed out on a great many things so far so I am not going to mope about it. We are teaching again in one way or another.
I was worried that hardly any students would participate in online learning. I was half wrong. Many students are up and on our zoom calls and getting some work done along the way. It is something. It isn’t as great as being in class, but it is a start.
I was worried my own children who are in school would suffer. Perhaps they are not getting the same education they would be getting but again, it’s something. They’ve adjusted and they are getting up every day and getting on their chromebooks and doing some learning.
I think the main issue is that students are missing out on necessary socialization. I don’t mean talking to their friends, which is part of it, but I mean learning how to function in a group and interact with peers and teachers. There is actually a lot of that that is learned in the classroom and without it students may be a bit stunted in social development.
I feel the younger the student, the more worse this is for them. High school students are supposed to arrive with proper skills necessary for learning. They ought to be able to read and deconstruct passages and form sentences and a number of other skills used in a classroom constantly. They ought to have basic math skills already and then use those to build some more advanced skills. If they have the basic skills, they can survive and continue to learn online. But for younger students, I despair.
How is a first grade teacher to teach 6 year olds how to read? What about getting them to focus on a zoom call to learn math? My own younger ones like my 8 and 9 year old, are bored immediately. In a classroom the teacher can control the environment and redirect, at home they can wander off and ignore everything. I think there is a lot of lost learning with our younger grades that we may never get back.
Then there are our disadvantaged students. What can we do for our students who live in poverty and the only access they had to the technology used for online learning was at school? What about the students who are second language learners? They were learning English at school. How stunted will their language development be if they are no longer in an English heavy environment like school?
There is a lot to celebrate but there is a lot that is going to have a lasting affect. There will be a hole left from covid in the education of our youth who are not at school that may never quite be filled since I have not heard a word about extending the school year or adding an additional year of school to make up for lost time. Some of my friends in education and I are already using the term “covid kids” for this group who is missing out on an education right now. Many were already behind, now they aren’t moving forward much at all. This may ultimately be the worst and most lasting effect of this pandemic.