Monday, March 23, 2020

It takes a village in this time of remote learning

Never in most of our lifetimes have we seen something impact us globally like the COVID-19 virus.  From week to week the government is making new announcements and the changes that are taking place can be quite overwhelming to digest for many of us.

As an educator on spring break, this vacation is not like any I've experienced before. I think I speak for so many educators when I say that it isn't a time of true rest and relaxation.  I awake each morning looking for direction on what we can expect to come as we are being told we will be returning to work next week.  Our students will not be in our classroom as the government has issued an indefinite suspension of classes.

More districts are looking to remote learning options and how to best support teachers with off-site learning for students.  I have fortunately experienced teaching online in the past and see a lot of possibility with using the internet to deliver instruction to students during these uncertain times.

However, I see this as a time where it will take a village to educate our children.  It is  crucial that school district administration, technology departments, educators, and parents come together online to ensure our children are utilizing the available tools to continue learning what otherwise would be taught in our face-to-face classrooms.

One of the things I wrote about in my gratitude journal that I'm extremely grateful for is the internet to keep us connected in a time where we are being asked to socially distance ourselves or isolate ourselves entirely.  With a wealth of videos, resources that can be downloaded digitally, and websites with interactive games to build skills, many of our students can and will continue to learn.  The biggest challenge we will face is ensuring equal access for all our learners.  Not every child has a device or internet access they can rely upon.  With our public libraries closed, this challenge has become increasingly felt in our communities.

So how do we ensure all our children will continue to learn remotely?  How do we use technology to ensure our most vulnerable children continue to have access to needed supports such as checking in with our counsellors, child care workers, aboriginal support workers, and the list goes on?  I'm an optimist and believe in my heart it is possible.  But I also believe it will take all of us to work together at a distance.

Let's keep the dialogue going through social media, our work e-mails, and letters to school districts, unions, and politicians.  Never before has written communication become more vital in our school communities.