Thursday, May 28, 2020

Remote teaching and learning: fear factor

There's a fear factor that I'm going to return to school in the fall and there will be many experts telling me how to do my job. I've faced that in the past and there is nothing worse than having multiple people who do not regularly teach children come to you to tell you how to do your job. Yet, I can feel the urgency of some to make this experience all about them and not about the teachers, students, or parents. I'm afraid of this.

I am the first one to reach out to learn or listen to someone who has something of value to tell me about teaching and learning. I love to learn how to do my job better, but too often, I've worked with the kinds of people who are not too concerned with the children or education and much more concerned with checking the boxes, elevating their resumes, looking like the hero, or desiring to be the boss, and those kinds of people truly are oppressive when it comes to doing a good job as a teacher.

How do we combat this situation? How do we ready ourselves for what could be an onslaught of bad ideas and misdirected, uninformed decisions when it comes to optimal teaching and learning. What can we do?

Keep the mission upfront
We have to keep the mission of our work center stage. What is most important about what we do and how we do it?

Safety first
We can not accept any decisions that put teachers, staff, students, or families in harm's way.

Equity matters
We cannot accept decisions that leave individuals or groups out of the equation. Our job is to teach all children, not some.

Quality is needed
What we teach, how we teach, and the tools and resources we teach with matter. We can't settle for low quality substitutes, but instead must have high quality resources, tools, colleagues, and other supports.

We are educators, not child care providers
Yes, we do care for children and that's paramount, but we can't lose the fact that we are educators and that's our job. If working conditions don't allow us to teach, then we can't do our jobs. We need positive work conditions to do our jobs well.

Teachers can't be asked to fund schools
As it is now, teachers are using their at-home tools and resources to a large degree tot each virtually. Teachers can't be expected to outfit at-home offices without support. This scenario has to be examined and dealt with fairly.

Reasonable and doable expectations are necessary
The workload has to be reasonable and doable. Expectations can't outpace an educator's time, skill, or will. Educators want to do a good job, and when expectations are reasonable and doable, they are able to do a good job.

Teacher voice is essential
Too often decisions for teachers are made without teacher voice, this has to stop. Teachers need to have an integral voice in all that is planned as we move ahead.