What insights do I have about my students after remote learning?
That is a question I have considered over the past few months. When thinking about the children I know. I have known them in the classroom in both kindergarten and grade 5, as I had the pleasure of teaching this same batch twice. I know them in person and now I know them in a different way too–how they were when learning at home.
I often thought about their teacher for next year, should we have to continue remote learning in the fall. He won’t know them like I know them.
He won’t know that the students whose work may seem comparatively mediocre are working on their own, empowered by their parents to be independent and responsible learners in their own right.
He actually won’t know the level of the students’ English language acquisition because their lessons have become a family affair, which I’m not saying is a bad thing. I’m just hoping that the students who are getting help at home are learning skills with their one-on-one familial tutors, lessons they may have missed over the years.
He won’t know which ones are getting bombarded with more than help from older siblings and parents, like excessive scaffolding on a building project on a sandy site. When the scaffolding gets taken away, there will be trouble if the builders haven’t drilled down to establish a strong foundation. He won’t really be able to recognize those students with shaky foundations who are getting disproportionate help on their online work.
For me, my insights are scattered. I have learned new things about my students since they started learning at home. Other insights on the more important human levels, I’ve sadly lost touch.
I have seen a whole spectrum of abilities and successes coming through in all these areas of remote learning:
- Timeliness of turning in assignments
- Engagement in opportunities afforded
- Excellence in work produced
- Understanding instructions
- Going above and beyond
- Willingness to ignore lessons entirely
One of my big takeaways is that success in remote learning was not predictable at all based on their effort and the work they were doing in the classroom. Of course, some students were not a surprise. They were very similar to the students I had in person in the grade 5 classroom. However, there were many children who ended up on opposite ends of the spectrum of abilities and successes. These students learned and engaged on very different levels than they did in person–some rose to the occasion, others foundered.
I have learned insights about myself too. For instance, in how difficult one-way communication is. I would think I explained something one way on my video instructions until I saw the assignments they turned in and say a big “Oops!” I missed being in the classroom, able to say, “Wait a minute! Let me explain this a different way before you continue.” I’ll save more on insights into myself for another post.
Perhaps the greatest insight I’ve learned is that children are complicated and full of different ways of being. We perhaps don’t know them as well as we think we do when we are with them for just a few hours a day. They are each valuable and multifaceted gems reflecting some light in school, but we don’t get to know them fully and see all their sides.
However, one thing I do know, it is certainly better to meet my students every day and get to see, know and experience their glinting brilliance in real life than remotely.