Every Man for Themselves

Public school has started. Kids are at home.  We are back to the 80-20 rule.  20% attend. 80% do not.

If you are a kid attending, public school now looks like this:  You get up in time for school, probably 8am or 9am, depending.  You sign into your classroom.  On your computer, you can see your new teacher.  You may or may not be looking at a classroom.  You may or may not be able to see a whiteboard that the teacher can write on.   You are likely one of 6, maybe 10 kids from your class last year who has signed in. There are probably other kids on the computer you don’t know or recognize and probably will never get the chance to.  Fewer teachers are also showing up; so, in the beginning, there may be some changes as to who delivers your lessons.   Teachers are getting jobs working for private schools or tutoring.  Classes are being consolidated.

Because you are in the equivalent of a Zoom meeting, you can’t talk to any of your friends while the teacher is talking. You might have moments where you are unmuted. You might be able to text on the side, but that is different.  It assumes you already know the people in your class. The teacher is talking and talking and talking.  Lecture is how your lessons are being delivered, whether you are in high school or in first grade.    The teacher, in most cases, can see you only if your video is on and only if the camera is pointed at you.   If you have computer problems you are in trouble. If your teacher has computer problems, everyone in your class is in trouble.

The curriculum is also limited.  Instructional materials, especially in the lower grades, were not designed to be presented in a lecture format.   You turn in work through a portal, maybe it gets reviewed, and hopefully, it can be returned to you so you get some feedback on work you’ve done. Teachers can’t look at your computer to see your work while you do it.  Sharing screens is difficult.   There is no feedback on who is grasping the materials, who is bored, and who is falling behind.  Then, the day ends, which leads to another day, another lecture.  More boredom; less learning. A supervisor of an Oklahoma school district put it the best, “It’s a S—t show!”

When school is over, it is even worse for the kids. School projects are a thing of the past; there is no one to pick them up, no one to grade them. Homework is limited.  There are no after school programs. There are no playdates with friends.  Time is unstructured.  There is little to do.  If your parents are both working at home, there is little supervision.  Depression, loneliness, boredom.   A lot of kids are spending a lot of time alone, day after day, without activity, education, or companionship.  

What would help?  For teachers, stop being afraid and be willing to take some risks without breaking the bank.   For kids, give them structure, accountability, and access to something that will inspire and educate them. How do we deliver this? First, make a concerted effort focusing on meeting the needs of kids; set that as priority number 1.  Second, think a bit outside of the box.   Solve the problem “what needs to be done to get kids back in school, socializing and learning.”   Add a bit of risk-taking.  Couple that with a bit of fun.

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