© COPYRIGHT 2020.
Raconteur Spoken Arts Studio. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Raconteur Spoken Arts Studio. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
I get it. Oh boy, do I ever: while I've homeschooled my two sons their entire lives (and they've both got special needs), I've also worked for a University, completed a PhD, became a Certified Professional Coach, and started two companies - one specific to working with youth in Spoken Arts, and an international coaching practice.
So please don't think, ever, "she's got it easy: she's just at home with her kids, teaching them, and she doesn't know what the real world is like." And also don't ever think I judge choices anyone else makes: I assume we're all doing the best we can, with what we know and what we have, at all times. I make my choices: you make yours.
What I DO know is how hard it has been to do everything I've done, while homeschooling, and I've had the benefit of 27 years as an educator and coach, teaching professionally from K - Uni, planning for homeschooling from my first sons' birth, and 10+ years of actual, boots-on-the-ground practice.
You've had, what, 5 days? And likely not much teaching experience or education.
If you feel like you're having a panic attack, rest assured - you're not alone. I've been contacted by innumerable people in my community in the past week who know my background, and who are trying to get a grip on the situation. They all want what's best for their kids, and they simply don't know where to start.
Some are faced with having a parent stay home for childcare; some have both parents trying to work from home; some have a nanny in place (but a school that requires a parent be present for online classes); others have neighbours, grandparents, relatives and friends stepping up to help out. Most probably don't have a lot of experience with online education (and if they do, consider yourself very VERY lucky).
Many of you are playing a numbers game: how long will this last? Maybe you're working with 2-, 3-, 6-week time frames. Maybe months. Maybe it's entirely unknown. How do you even begin to plan for that??
Some schools (many private) have switched over to online classrooms OVER THE WEEKEND. Take a minute with that thought: in 48-or-so hours teachers have had to build classrooms and content, learn an online platform, and be prepared to delivery their courses online. If that doesn't speak to dedication, I'm not sure what would.
But it's new for you, too. And your children. And the other caregivers in your child's life.
If this carries on for more than a few weeks, a few things might occur: first and foremost, it's very possible that the online learning platforms will collapse, because of the strain on the infrastructure. No doubt they're working around the clock to build out the system, but it takes time - and it seems like everyone is jumping in the boat at the same time. In that situation, the boat sinks. My hope is that the boat doesn't sink before a new, bigger boat comes along. If it DOES, then we need to talk in terms of lifejackets (until the big boat arrives).
This is where any experience you have, watching your kids in an online learning environment, even in this sort term becomes the NUMBER ONE FEATURE in the lifejacket.
That will leave everyone in a position where they have the information to create learning opportunities tuned in especially for the learners they're caring for and working with. No teacher experience or education needed: just OBSERVATION WITHOUT JUDGEMENT.
If you find yourself in the Brave New World of online schooling (for the short- or the long-term), you have unique opportunity to:
1) Witness how your child learns
2) Discover how your child PREFERS to learn
3) Examine your child's work habits: are they organized? how are their note-taking skills? do they interact effectively with
peers? are they accountable for their contributions, homework, projects, etc?
4) Listen to their communication skills: are they articulate? are they having trouble collecting their thoughts? do they
offer to participate, or hang back?
5) Observe their ability to FOCUS: can they follow the class? do they 'tune out'? are they easily distracted?
6) Gauge when their really engaged: when do they perk up? is there a time of day? a topic? a teacher? a task?
7) Support their in-class experiences - AFTER class, of course - with reflections, conversations, sharing of insight and
additional pieces of information, stories and other related matter.
When you look at it this way, perhaps you will begin to see how enormous the potential is here. You will know more about your child as a LEARNER and an INDIVIDUAL than you've ever known before. How valuable is THAT?
Like I said: this has to occur without judgement. EVERY child is different, and every person learns differently. This process will give you the chance to support learning going forward (even if that means in a technology-free mode for a while) with knowledge about:
THIS is how you design your learning lifejacket. If you are faced with making choices about education, going forward, this information is a huge asset. It will allows you to choose classes, teachers, activities, learning materials, learning environments, and so on, with more confidence than you've ever had in the past. You'll be able to swim, and teach your child the same thing.
I can't emphasize enough, though, that you HAVE TO KEEP YOUR OWN THOUGHTS, IDEAS AND PREFERENCES out of the mix. Your learner is not you, or their siblings, or the other children they go to school with. The world has changed (boy, has it!) and it's 2020. It doesn't do a lick of good to say, "back in my day". It also serves no one to try and fit one culture's learning expectations into another's. There is a saying, "When in Rome..." You can adapt and stay true to yourself, all at the same time. Trust me.
In future blogs, I will talk about working effectively with your learners/children, structuring school days, working with curricular choices, and teaching and learning philosophies...and likely much more. Stay tuned!! xo ~d~
Hello! My name is Donna, and I'm a home-educator (10+years) of two gifted boys (now grades 9/10 and 6/7). My PhD is in Education (Curriculum, Teaching and Learning), and I'm a Certified Professional Coach (CPC). I own two companies - Raconteur Spoken Arts Studio and The Eloquence Equation (website being revamped as we speak!). Check out my 'About' page for more dirt! ~cheers~ donna