The pandemic emergency virtual learning plan was clearly difficult for parents, teachers, and students. A global pandemic was not on anyone’s radar and it threw many seasoned teachers into a loop.
Many parents had to work from home and monitor their children’s rigorous schedule of meetings simultaneously. Some decided to pull their kids from their schools because they were so swamped with the online learning experience. With such a short time left in the school semester and the promise from certain experts that the pandemic would fizzle out over the summer, many parents thought that their kids would make up for the lost time in an in-person 20/21 school year. Despite all the challenges some children still thrived in the online format. We interviewed teachers and parents to find the best advice for a successful school year.
#1 Find community
One major way to help ease the transition into virtual learning is to lean on others for support. Join a Facebook support group. These groups are loaded with great advice and you will find other people that are having a crazy time of virtual learning alongside you. You could also reach out to your child’s teachers and find out if any other parents would like to keep in contact. Have a one-on-one Zoom/Facetime/virtual meetup or play-date with someone. The novelty of large Zoom meetings wore off fairly quickly last spring. It turns out that people struggle to have meaningful conversations with people in larger groups because it is difficult when you cannot follow their facial expressions. People are too afraid to talk over each other in large Zoom meetings, so try to utilize smaller group sessions. Parents and teachers suggested that you lean heavily on online communities for support and communicate your concerns with your child’s teacher.
#2 Be Flexible
This type of learning environment was not what any teacher was expecting when they went through their teacher preparation in college, which is geared towards in-person instruction best practices. Being asked to teach virtually at the drop of the hat is intimidating to everyone because there are so many unknown variables, with the teachers having to learn an entirely new way of teaching(which has greatly affected their curriculum in many cases). Some concepts for online learning are unconventional but still have a track record of success. Be open-minded to the virtual environment and the possibilities may surprise you. Colleges and universities have been perfecting their online learning experience for decades, which K-12 would be wise to follow suit in-case another occasion arises where this similar approach is needed in primary and secondary.
A global pandemic will hopefully be a once in a lifetime experience for all of us but some things that have resulted from this experience have been a great life experience that would not have been garnered otherwise. Just remember, the word “fluid” is going to be used ad nauseum because it is the best descriptor for this whole experience. Teachers and administration are learning how to do this at the same rate you the families are, so remember to give some grace when entering this experience with the understanding that everyone involved needs to help each other be successful in navigating this course. Blaming, accusations and other negativity won’t help anyone in this situation.
#3 Don’t Give Up
If you and your child are navigating this transition seamlessly then you are our hero but if not, you are not alone. Take a deep breath and exhale out slowly. You are probably about to receive a bunch of logins for various learning formats and none of them will work the first time and probably not the time after that. We learned that the students that excelled in the online learning environment stayed consistent. They kept pushing through, were independent problem solvers and thinkers, and kept persevering even when the challenges seemed insurmountable. Keep your spirits up, be gritty, and preserve. Parents and students, you got this!
#4 Laugh a little
Hands down, the best thing by far to come out of 2020 is the humor. Laughing in this crazy moment may be the thing that helps to salvage whatever is left of your sanity at the end of the day. Sometimes everything goes wrong to the point where you have to throw your hands up and say, “flush this day down the toilet”, and you may even be saying, “forget this day, flush the entire year down the toilet.” Most days you probably cannot tell if the news headlines are real or satire; this all must be a joke. In this crazy year, at least the memes are creative and funny. They say laughter is the best medicine and this year that is especially true. Here is a link to one of the popular school-related humor we found on YouTube.
What are your tips for staying sane through the virtual learning experience? Leave your tips and experience in the comments below. Say Hello! Take our school reopening poll.