Monday, March 16, 2020

The Challenges We Face As Teaching Goes Online- A Guest Post by Alec Shantzis

In addition to the COVID-19 virus and the health and economic consequences we are facing.  All over the country, teachers are going online today. 
This will shine a light on a reality teachers face every day.  It is difficult to get students to work.  Even in a classroom with a trained pro, students resist working. They care even less about the tests that teachers and districts have been mandated to treat as important to students learning.  The age we live in has created millions of disinterested students, overloaded parents, a lack of fascination with mastery and a social norm that sadly includes a growing amount of disrespect and lack of etiquette in general. 
Tasking parents with the full responsibility of getting kids to do schoolwork will have limited, if any, success in many schools .
Parents are about to find out why teachers should be paid well ! 
My predictions-
- a large percentage of students will see this as a vacation and unless parents immediately insist that their children treat each day like a scheduled, disciplined school day, spend time and effort keeping their children focused and completing schoolwork, we can expect maybe a 10% completion rate of assignments if we are lucky.
-mandated state testing will be disrupted and test scores for this year will be absolutely meaningless.  Superintendents and school boards have been bullied by states for a number of years regarding squeezing ever ascending test scores from our students.  Governors that cancel testing will take a huge emotional and administrative burden off of the backs of administrators at a time when stress relief will be much appreciated.
-Governors have signed contracts worth billions of dollars nationally ( mostly with Pearson but not completely) to prep, administer and grade tests.  Wise governors will use the declared national emergency to declare there will be no state testing this year.  -Colleges must begin creating alternative protocols for deciding which students will be accepted using means other than standardized test scores.  
This will be fought rigorously (some of you will get my little pun there....)  by Pearson and the other education companies. 
- Many Students will approach this like a summer vacation and approach schoolwork as if it only need be completed before they have to report back to school.  They will play a lot of video games
-  each September, teachers work to create routines that create an atmosphere conducive to learning.  It takes from a week to a month to get a whole class on board.  When students return, we will be not only starting from scratch but facing a student population that at best, has experienced the adults around them stressed and at worst, we will see students that at a young age have been traumatized by illness, possible deaths around them, dire economic family situations , and fear.  
The focus of education, if some thought is put into it, should be helping our students re integrate, but also on caring for a range of student issues from stress to trauma. 
This is my initial set of thoughts about it. I will probably write more at some point.

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