Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Virtual Learning: Support students, and do not judge

The bottom line is that you typically get what you put into something. If you practice and focus on a topic, endeavor, or skill, you usually achieve success in that matter. While I know this doesn't work every time, we all know that if you work at something, you generally achieve.

As I work with students on virtual menus that include a wide variety of learning experiences in differentiated and supported ways, the reality is that most will engage with those activities, but some will not. The example of minutes to the right demonstrates this. We see a range of practice minutes from 0 - 189 minutes or 0 - 3 hours and 9 minutes. That is a big difference of practice over a three-day period. As the "virtual teacher," I have tried many ways to encourage each student to complete this worthy math practice including contacting families, writing notes to students via family emails, and offering coaching support, but still some don't practice.

As a mom, I know that what we can do to support our children's learning is limitless--there are countless, varied opportunities to support your child's learning in school and out of school. What limits this limitless proposition is all kinds of issues related to capacity, schedules, will, confidence, relationships, settings, and more. This happens during typical school days and during virtual days too. That's why, after considerable communication, I simply have to let this issue be as it is--I can't judge why a family cannot support a child's school study, that's not within my role, ability, or right. What I can do is offer support and provide a realistic picture of why the study is valuable. After that it's up to the student and the family.

The limitless potential learning holds meets every family differently. Some families are very laid back and don't worry about helping a child keep up with their studies, and other families are relentless with their will to help their child achieve. People fall all along the continuum with this proposition. As a parent, I fell into different places for different children mostly due to life's challenges, commitments, and opportunity at the time. Sometimes I had the time and support to help my own children in countless ways, and other times I was greatly compromised about what I could do because of the circumstances of the moment. At all times, I did the best I could, and as I present learning opportunities to my students now, I know that the families are doing their best given the circumstances they have.

So as teachers during this virtual learning time, it's our job to provide a rich resource and support for our students. It is also our job not to judge, but to help in ways that we can.