Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Return to school or virtual school?

I read the recommendation from the Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA) yesterday. The MTA recommends that we don't return to school, but instead, continue the virtual school routines that we've started.

I agree.

At first, I hoped to return to school in June for a few weeks of closure, but now, after reading the MTA's recommendations as well as the research related to the virus, I think we're better safe than sorry. To stay apart for the next six-seven weeks will ensure greater safety, which hopefully, in turn, will spell a safe return to school in September.

Of course this is not ideal. Virtual school has demonstrated the limitations of remote learning, yet this online learning has also revealed some positives. So if we are to continue the learning online, I'll lean toward the positives with my virtual school practice which includes lots of small group coaching online, some virtual whole class and grade level lessons and meetings, and considerable individual coaching via email, Google docs, and Google classroom. In summary, my greatest focus will be to encourage and coach students forward with their math learning and interdisciplinary biography project. I'll also support the grade five virtual performance that all fifth graders will take part in across the system. At the end of the school year, I'll likely take part in possible car parades and other virtual celebrations of students' fifth grade year and graduation from elementary school.

The professional development focus of this time will be a focus on bettering my virtual teaching, learning, and collaboration skills. This has been a positive learning curve for all teachers and students, one that we'll likely incorporate more when we return to school buildings and classrooms in the fall.

So, I hope the Governor, Commissioner, and school leaders across the state will make a wise choice that puts the health and safety of the community first. Seven weeks of stay-at-home learning and teaching is a small price to pay for long term safety and success.