The Missouri Reader WINTER ISSUE Vol. 44, Issue 1 - Page 17

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In a recent blog, Ishiaru (May 11, 2020) strongly cautions educators about the “dangerous assumption” of recreating school at home. She purports that asking families to embrace school-based learning as the most valued form of learning at home may come at the expense of the families’ own language and culture. In addition, schools’ capacity to support students who struggle is exacerbated when a fifth of all American students do not have Internet at home (Rizga, 2020), and those who lack the technology resources are most often families of poverty. Collins and Halverson (2018) remind educators to address the opportunity gaps facing our nation. They promote technologies as a huge part of those gaps because “technology is becoming central to all of life” (p.3).

Instructional Considerations

Teaching Equity/ Fairness. One could argue that equity among teacher responsibilities was an issue that was not carefully considered by some school leaders. With the onus of the instruction, communication, and, at times, backlash falling on the classroom teacher, the responsibilities of the special subject teachers (Art, Music, Physical Education, and Library) were not always clearly defined by school leaders. Classroom teachers were faced with hours of preparation of lessons, responding to students’ postings, and answering parents’ questions and concerns. Generally, all teachers employed within the same school entity practice under a common contractual agreement. However, the workload difference between classroom and special subject area teachers was not always equitable during this period of remote learning.

Classroom management. Many teachers found that the management of student behaviors and learning practices during remote learning to closely mimic the management required during on-ground learning. When engaged in remote learning, teachers still found it necessary to remind students to attend to the task at hand, to raise their virtual hand rather than calling out, and to check the due dates of assignments. Figures 1and 2 offer some practical guidance for students’ expectations during live remote instruction. Having these charts available for both students and their parents created an even level of awareness for everyone in the home about expected learning behaviors.

Conclusions/Final Thoughts

Several aspects of remote learning were presented and examples of both remarkable and less notable remote teaching situations were shared. Responsibilities of teachers, students, and parents were addressed. The pandemic caused teachers to shift gears for their instructional delivery. The instructional events described here happened in real time, during the current pandemic, and are grounded in the trial and error action research of the educators who lived these experiences. Empirical evidence is unavailable due to the newness of the widespread remote learning situation during the current pandemic.

Although computer platforms can facilitate conversations among people, it seems that one-on-one and small group dialogue is easier to facilitate than groups of 15, 20, or even more. Best practices must remain in the forefront of all teaching preparation and implementation. Teaching is so much more than the delivery of content whether in a seated classroom or through remote learning.

As reflective practitioners, the authors offer a few final thoughts and questions for our fellow educators: All stakeholders need to be advocates for 21st century literacy skills. How teaching and learning may change should be a major consideration for schools as they embrace an “educational vision” (Herold, 2016) when implementing digital tools and procedures. We encourage educators and the community at large to heed ILA’s recommendations (2017) regarding how pedagogy is changing, the on-going professional development needs of teachers for digital learning, and to be mindful of policies that may need to be created or updated.

Key questions that need to be asked at this time are how will educators improve the quality of remote teaching practices, and, does remote teaching have the capacity to improve education overall? MacDonald (2019) reminds us that when effective literacy instruction is supported with effective technology tools, educators can enable students to face school challenges as well as the challenges of the world.

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