COVID19-SLIDE LEARNING TRAUMA
Students have been out of their physical classrooms since March. What will teachers see in their learning when they meet in September or whenever possible? It depends. For sure, Covid-19 will leave students with various traumas. “COVID-slide” will be one of them. It will be learning trauma.
Three days into online teaching, I realized that one of my students was getting frustrated and angry every day. I teach grade one. This particular student used to come to ask for a hug whenever confronted with a difficult task. After the hug, he will feel pumped, happy, motivated and return to his desk. Then his work would be completed with brio. Now, he was locked in his bedroom, only watching his friends on a small screen.
Researchers' analysis suggests that students will lose the equivalent of a full academic year worth of educational gains due to the shutdowns. Online schooling has become the new normal. However, do we know the challenges they face while learning at home? Here are a few.
Playing video games.
Some students love playing video games. Also, their favourite game is one click away from the learning platform. The temptation is huge when a lack of motivation kicks in or when attention fades. Solution: The online teacher has to provide a video game recess time in the day plan.
Internet service unreliable.
Connectivity has its caprices. It can take a couple of minutes as it could take more than an hour. So at that time, what happens to the students learning? Do not pause the learning process. Solution: provide students with hands-on projects always waiting as Plan B. Besides, students love creating. Their thinking, problem-solving skills, application skills will be in use during these moments. Online learning is also a time to infuse experiential learning.
Parents are away or at work.
Some students will be alone at home. The teacher is online with them. His/her presence provides safety and adult supervision. Absenteeism has been reduced. However, some students will not show up for distance learning. Too boring for them or no computer at home or no adequate working space in the house.
Solution: some phone calls to connect with the students. A principal in Connecticut has visited his student's home (respecting social distance rules) to inquire.
Uncomfortable with technology.
Not everyone or every kid is technology savvy. However, students need to know and feel that help is around. Solution: get some students to explain to their pairs how to troubleshoot the problem. Get one parent to explain to the other parent who is online how they solve the problem. We are all standing together.
Progressing well or progressing with difficulty
Some students will progress well online. Others not so much. For various reasons and depending on personal circumstances. Solution: More communication and reminder to concerned parents and students. Teachers need to share real data statistics of students' online engagement with parents and students. Engage and provide more online presence and support to at-risk learners. Have a visible plan of learning skills on the day plan and get at-risk students to evaluate their daily or class engagement.
The student I mentioned earlier asked me for a favour one day. He wanted to stay with me during recess. I asked him what could be good for the class. He answered. Online time for online games with friends and ten minutes of free chat before lessons start in the morning. Wish granted.
Please share with us some challenges you have seen so that we could reflect on together to make our students learning more successful.