Episode 3 – Intro to the Distance learning opportunity series

Episode 3.

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Today we are kicking off an entire series focusing on what I am calling the Distance Learning Opportunity. The title of the series may be a little deceiving; but I’ll also be talking about the other learning models occurring right now as well. I am calling this series the Distance Learning Opportunity Series because when we all shifted gears to distance learning last spring, so much was going on. But for every negative, I choose to find a positive – an opportunity. And an opportunity we truly do have. My entire first episode of this podcast was about my opinion on distance learning. So feel free to go back and listen to that episode. 

https://theteachermama.education/podcast/

We have the opportunity to work together as a community of parents, caregivers, teachers, students, and other educators to help our children learn at their highest potential, and give them opportunities to become all we hope and dream for them. Their future starts now. It starts with learning the alphabet, learning to read, learning basic math facts, learning to question and reflect. This podcast series will be devoted to ways parents, caregivers, and educators can take advantage of whichever learning model you find yourselves in right now to encourage the greatest growth in your children. 

This episode will be the introduction to the series. Laying the foundation. Each episode will have comments from you responding to these questions. 

  1. What learning model is your child in currently? Hybrid, In-Person, Distance, Homeschooling or Other
  2. What is going well with learning? Or maybe the learning model itself?
  3. What isn’t going as well as you would like? AND if possible, what is one small step you can take to make that thing better? 

The link for adding your own comments can be found on The Teacher Mama FB page and in the transcript of this episode. Each episode following this introductory episode will focus on a specific topic. So, like, an entire episode on math and learning, or literacy. But literacy is broken into a lot of different area’s like learning the alphabet, comprehension, phonics, etc.

Comments Section

Let’s kick off this episode with some comments from you! A teacher facilitating distance learning send in some comments. Q. What is going well with learning? A.  Students explain their thoughts and process of answering questions on flipgrid.

5:50 – 8:03  My rant about flipgrid; which turned out NOT to be brief. Lol

Now comments from a parent whose child is learning through distance learning. Q. What isn’t going we well as you would like? A. Schedules. The teacher sent a daily routine and schedule with a list of times. At a specific time is a daily check-in. Twice a week meet with the teacher in a video chat. Ok. I chose to do distant learning for my son this year. But really wasn’t given that much of an option. So I’ve set everything aside to become the best teacher that I possibly can. However, we are then handed a piece of paper with how the schedule should go. 8:30 check in. 9:45 seesaw. 10:20 classes. Work until 3:30. Ok. I’m a single mom of two boys. All I do is worry about time. I’m sorry, but this wasn’t my choice. I didn’t choose for a virus to sweep through the state and close schools. Parents are busy cooking, cleaning, paying bills. Some times these times are unrealistic. 

I hear you mama! A schedule for distance learning just doesn’t make sense to me in most cases. Life is going on and sometimes distance learning needs to happen in the evenings. Or power through in the mornings.  Or to be honest I have done two days of work in one day, because a kid was sick or something happened. Life happened. And learning needed to be put off. It still happened. Just not in our normal schedule. 

I also think it is inappropriate to expect a child working by themselves from home to work on school work all day. And teachers have to be flexible during the day in the classroom, things come up. Life happens in the classroom too. In my experience one-on-one learning can increase student productivity and speed up the amount of time an activity takes. For example, let’s say we spend an hour going through four centers in the classroom. Those same four center activities when done with one-on-one attention could be completed in as little as 15 minutes. That is a 45 minute difference. There is less transition, more accountability, less chances for getting distracted, and constant support from an adult when questions arise. 

Here is my advice for all of you mama’s, daddy’s, and caregivers out there dealing with this or a similar issue. 

  1. Talk to your child’s teacher. Lay it all out there, explaining why the schedule provided is unrealistic for your family. Ask for flexibility. Propose a solution that would work for your family. 
  2. 2. Some states are requiring so many hours a day of learning even for distance learners. So I suggest sending a message to your state education department. Explain why expecting a child to be learning from 8:30-3:30 every day is unrealistic, and suggest change. Suggest an alternative. Don’t just complain, this is really important. For change to happen, we need to offer do-able suggestions. Find your state education department website, the contact information is typically listed at the very top or very bottom of the webpage.  

Good luck mama! I hear you. I feel your frustration with you. You are doing a great job mama. 

Today I am going to focus on the basics of the learning models available right now in the US. Some state’s have chosen to only use distance learning, while other state’s, like my own, flow between the three learning models. 

What are the models used right now in education? There is Distance, Hybrid, In-Person. Distance learning is when the child is learning from home either virtually, or paper/pencil. Distance learning looks very different in different states and even different schools within a district. Those of you in the distance learning model right now, we would love to hear from you and learn how your school or district is defining distance learning. What is expected from you and your child? Add your comments to the form mentioned earlier. 

In-Person learning is mostly the same as it has always been. The child goes to the physical classroom, learns, goes home, and may or may not have homework. The classroom itself may look very different though. Desks are 6 feet apart. Everyone is wearing a mask and/or face shield. Some places don’t have transitions to different classrooms. Instead the students stay in the classroom and the teachers are the ones to move between rooms. This could even include classes like gym, music, art, and media. Classrooms right now are also using a lot of the same virtual learning strategies to minimize contact and potential spread of the virus. 

Hybrid learning is simply a combination of the above two models. Half of the students come on days A and B, the other half come on days C and D, and day E are deep cleaning or intervention days. The days students are in-person learning, they are expected to learn through distance learning. 

In a lot of places, parents have the choice of what model they want their child to participate. My state of MN required all public schools to offer distance learning as a choice for families. A lot of families took up on that offer and did choose distance learning.

I mentioned earlier some states have fluid movement between the three learning models. This is due to the number of active COVID-19 cases in the immediate area surrounding the school district. There is a specific formula the school district, health department, and department of education use to determine which learning model is the safest option for students. In some places, the learning model could change every two weeks. This doesn’t even take into account the students or staff needing to quarantine due to symptoms or close contact with a positive case. 

With all of these different learning models, and the abrupt switch to distance learning this past spring I have heard from many many families they are worried their child is falling behind. Or are worried they already are behind. 

So, let’s unpack this a little bit. What does it mean for a student to be falling behind? Some school districts sent out final report cards, and some didn’t this past spring. So without a report card to look at, you may be wondering just how your child did last school year. It can be difficult to know how much your child should know at any given grade level or age. Two of the biggest things I can say though, is this. 

* Do they get easily frustrated with the current work they are being assigned? 

* Questions to ask your child’s teacher

QUESTIONS

  1. How is my child doing in relation to grade level norms? 

2.    What assessments have been done so far this year? And. How did my child do on those assessments? 

– Were there any distractions during the assessment? Do you think my child’s performance on the assessment accurately reflects their knowledge to date? 

3. What is one area on the report card – or What is one topic my child is currently struggling with that I could help them learn and practice at home? 

4. How is my child’s behavior during class? 

5. How is my child’s focus and attention during class? 

6. Is there anything you would like to see my child improve or change? 

7. What is one thing my child does well consistently and we can help them tune into and support peers in that area/topic?

BONUS QUESTION

What can we do to support you – the teacher – right now? 

Alright, so we are wrapping up this first episode. There was kind of a lot there. Surface level stuff. There are mainly three different learning model’s happening in public education right now: in-person, distance, and hybrid. And you can find out or figure out if your child has fallen behind their peers by asking questions, observing your child, and listening to the rest of this podcast series. Each episode will dive deeper into how you can know if your child has fallen behind in a specific topic, and some simple action steps that can be taken to help your child continue their learning. 

Your action step, or homework if you will, is to download the list of questions. Parent-Teacher conferences would be a great time to review these questions and help make planning decisions for the next weeks. 

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