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Some Thoughts About Distance Learning

Some Thoughts About Distance Learning

Posted by Matthew Forman - ELA in Middle School on Apr 15th 2020

Matthew Forman - ELA in Middle School

In this world crisis, there has been a lot of understandable panic and rampant fear that we have face.  From shortages of bread and dairy products, to medical devices, to - NO! SAY IT AIN'T SO! - toilet paper.  Some, obviously, much more serious than others.  What there has been no shortage of, however, is the willingness, caring and love that teachers around the world have shown to their students, their students' families, their administrators and communities, and, perhaps most touching of all, one another. 

Literally around the world, as governments were struggling to find answers and responses to a viral pandemic, we teachers immediately thought, “Our kids. How do we help our kids? How do help feed them? How do we continue to teach them?” And most of the governments turned to the school districts to come up with their own answers to these questions, as the governmental infrastructure faced the vital questions of survival. And we stepped up.

First, to all of the governments who left it to us to figure out – thank you. You did just the right thing for a change. You let those of us who face these problems everyday find the solutions to the amped up problems we suddenly faced.

One of those problems, helping our kids get enough food to eat, was simply handled by district administrators and their teams, from what I have learned. You folks at district ROCK! You actually are superstars in all of this. And, for the most part, you allowed your teachers the latitude to do what we do best…teach. School administrators and leadership teams came together in their districts. At the same time, global groups of teachers used social media for something great – helping and encouraging one another. What a wonderful departure from the usual garbage we hear about!

District administrators, parents, students, and politicians asked how we were going to continue teaching. Some of us asked the same thing, and some even started to panic. And everyone started saying “Distance Learning”. One report had it that the governor of Michigan said that “Distance learning will not count” towards the school year. I don’t know if that was a factual report or not. If it was, I would ask him to check into SNHU, or Grand Canyon University, or – gasp! – Western Governors University, to name only three of the thousand or more online University programs that are all “distance learning”. Or perhaps he should conference with his counterpart in Alaska, where they have entire districts without school buildings – but are successfully teaching through distance learning.

To those who may be panicking (including some teachers), please don’t. With resources like Google Classroom, Hangout, Captivate from Adobe, Pluralsight, Lessonly, and so many others, we have excellent capabilities of reaching the vast majority of our students. I do realize that there are many, globally and locally, who do not have access to online learning, but in most of the “developed” world, the majority do have that access. And those who don’t are not being ignored. Teachers and school administrators are still planning and coming up with solutions to reach those students.

So, when it comes to distance learning during this time of crisis, please, take a step back. Take a deep breath (but at least six feet away from anyone else). Now, repeat after me. “We got this.”