Last Thursday night news reports starting mentioning that schools in my area were closing down because of the COVID-19 virus. Early Friday morning teachers in my district participated in a two hour eLearning training. This was brand new to teachers. We’re not a 1:1 device district and technology tools are used, but it’s use is inconsistent. During the training coaches introduced a landing page that K-5 students will visit (starting Monday) during an elearning day. Students will visit the page, select their grade, subject area, and pick a certain amount of tasks to complete each day. A lot of work went into creating the landing page. Coaches and administrators helped create the page and also made sure it aligned to the state expectations so it counts as an official school day. After introducing the page and the expectations for staff and students, teachers were left to ask questions. There were so many questions and anxiety was running high. t was stressful, but I felt more comfortable after the training than before. As the training went on the presenters started to briefly discuss issues relating to equity and eLearning. I thought this was interesting and am going to write down a more than a few questions that come to mind regarding these topics.
- What about students that don’t have internet access at home?
- What about students that receive free/reduced meals?
- What about childcare?
- What about students that aren’t familiar with the technology tools that are used?
- What role do school libraries play with ensuring all students have books?
- Can students make up multiple days in one?
- What happens if a teacher needs to take a sick day at home?
- What about the social aspects of learning?
- Can individual teachers post activities for their students to complete
- How do you know that students complete the tasks?
- How does differentiation look with eLearning?
- How are students assessed with eLearning?
These are just a few questions and some of them were addressed during the training. Childcare, access to internet and free/reduced meals are such important issues and I think they could be discussed even more. I’m wondering how many families that are in need will reach out and ask? Honestly, I’m not positive. Being proactive is key here and this is uncharted territory.
Later on that Friday teachers and students were informed that school will be closed all next week. Some students were excited while you could tell others were crushed. The realization that they won’t be able to see their friends, their teacher, work together and be part of the established routines was challenging for some kids. As they left I gave them a fist bump and told them I’ll see them after spring break. I’ll miss working with them and the social aspect of learning is a big part of my classroom.
Over and over again on Friday I was told that we need to be flexible. The key is that we’ll need to pivot (seems to be the key work of the year) with eLearning and make changes as needed. It’s not going to be perfect and there will be bumps and redirections. I’m optimistic and am glad that students have the opportunity to still engage in content, but it’s significantly different than what they’d experience in the classroom.