Distant/ Remote Learning.
No one had any idea what was going to be thrown our way in 2020. Even with the news outlets, social media, and everyone experiencing this heads on– no one can even fully explain what to make of any of this. Corona virus came without warning and with a vengeance. Without discrimination and without sympathy. Yet what this Pandemic brought the ultimate test of patience to the unknown. How did it get here? Why are some people getting sick and dying and some are not? Do we shutdown? Now we shutdown, how will people work? How will people eat? Schools? How will the Kids get their education? Congressman John Lewis in his speeches and editorial he delivered in Atlanta of this year he declared, “ You must find a way to get in the way. You must find a way to get in trouble, good trouble, necessary trouble. Use what you have… t help make our country and make our world a better place, where no one will be left out or left behind… It is your time.” My good trouble that is passionate to me because I am living through it is remote learning and distancing learning during a pandemic. Not only am I experiencing the new realities of this new learning but so is my 9 year old daughter. It all happen one warm March morning when I made the decision to pick her up, lock down, and pray for the best.
No one thought this would pass Easter break but we are still her almost 7 months later still trying to figure it out. Are the kids spreading it? Are the teachers spreading it? 6 feet or complete isolation? A mask or a face shield with a mask? patience has become a virtual and true test not just for us as adults but for our children– no one was about to study for. “Mom when can I go to Aubrey’s house?” “My love I am sorry you can not go there because we are not allowed to go out”, I said that with a straight face and tried not to raise the anxiety levels already there. “Mom, I left my stuff in school” “I am sorry sweetie, the school is closed we have to see what the school tells us” while she was worried about the little things like which pencil she left in her desk, I was worried about how was this little girl going to learn? how will she get the school materials she needs to study from? my mind ran 100 miles per hours that week. Even though I know the only thing that was going through my daughter’s head was… “Vacation”.
Like any parent, our children’s education is top priority after health. I always push for my daughter to do her best in school but how can I when school stopped. Working since I was 15 I know what it is like to sit in front of a computer for hours on in but will she? In an article by Dana Goldstein “Coronavirus Is Shutting Schools. Is America Ready for virtual learning?” She goes on to speak with educators on how this transition will have an effect on children’s academic prowess, social skills, and safety. Those families that have low-income do not have access to Internet access that would be required for a while 5 hours of learning or any access at all. Some families do not have computers or iPads to use, is the department of education prepare to supply over 300k students with the tools they need? It took my daughter 4 months to get an iPad from the DOE. Imagine your child unable to earn for 4 months out of the year?
Dana Goldstein interviewed some children to find out their input on how distance learning affected them. Gerlanda Di Stefano from Malverne NY goes on to say “My first weeks of online classes have been hard because it’s difficult to stay on task with all the work we are being assigned by teachers. The work isn’t necessarily hard but figuring out how to use the different websites and when a new assignment has been posted takes a while. I am getting better at this as I go just like my classmates but sometimes I’ll miss some assignments I didn’t realize were due.” If I could tell you how many times a teacher emailed me for my daughter or a professor contact me that something was not submitted or my daughter was not present to a class because the google form was not filled out correctly or there was a glitch. The best was all the test that had to be retaken because the teachers couldn’t get the server to work correctly.
The amount of immense errors that only one person can endure without losing all their marbles, the phrase “we are in this together” comes to mind. In all reality, just as I am going through this new norm as a parent so are the teachers and professors. Not only as educator to myself and their own children they may have at home. I know many educators that themselves are parents having to plates on their tables full to the edge. I interviewed a couple of parents and teachers to see their inputs and seen interviews on the subject. “you are a teacher of all grades in elementary school for NYC and have a daughter in the 4th grade in a private school– how that going? (Laughing) “I feel for all these children, myself, and the schools. Everyone is hurting. The teachers went to school and invest into teaching students in person not behind a computer. I went back to my school to prepare and it was depressing it was empty, it was eerie. Like out of a movie” says Jamie Walsh from Staten Island. “The DOE is calling the shots we just follow, We know just as much as you do on a daily.” Assistant Principal of Brooklyn Public School. “It is just breaks my heart that these children are not getting the educations that they are suppose to get and I see my daughter falling behind slowly and surely.” States Tamisha Rodriguez. “We can only try our best and will not be able to really teach our children until they find a vaccine and we are back into class” says Sam Petz, teacher in Queens public school. “But Sam what do we do in the mean time?” “People are struggling, family is being torn apart by this virus, hug your children at night and don’t be too hard on yourself”. It was an amazing time interviewing these ladies going through the effects of distance learning and remote learning.
I made the biggest and best decision in my life, after 10 years of not being in school I said since I am home now let me get it– school was be open by September. I am started to think just like everyone else I jinxed just that idea. Still behind a computer and looking at little squares, I too know what the effects are of learning from a distance. College has always had online classes, so I get it. but some classes need that one on one learning. Young kids right out high school do not know what it is to walk into college and have that experience. I felt like those kids at 32 years old. I also witness the horror of the unknown and seeing my professors frustrated and disappointed that they can’t teach how they know. Apologizing like they know they were not teaching up to their ability as educator. In my law 1101 class I tried to be the class clown just to see a smile because we are in this together. Turned on the camera with bed hair and all to make strangers I have never met in my life smile.
What happen in 2020 and our education system will go down in history. Many will talk about this for years to come but for the better. We will look at all our mistakes and accomplishments to better the world so we are not sitting ducks next time (hopefully not a next time). “When kids come to a classroom, it’s easy to imagine they’re all the same. But we can’t expect the same outcomes from a kid learning on his own computer at his family’s vacation home and a child who doesn’t even have a table to sit at,” says Avi Kaplan, PhD, a professor of educational psychology at Temple University. But the experience may yet have a silver lining, he adds. “We have a tendency to go back to what we thought was normal. But there’s an opportunity here to unlearn things that people knew were not working.”
I am living in this world where my child and I are in front of a computer trying to get through it together. Like anyone else in the world it has tested our limits and pushed us pass it. It’s amazing how much responsibility is placed not only the teachers but the children. Children that only had to make sure they showed up and had a pencil as a starter. Now have to be computer savvy and make sure they can stay tuned in 5 hours in front of a screen. I admire the amount of unity we developed as a community because now we have to be more in touch otherwise we would fall apart. Checking up and double checking, there are pro and cons all day about this time but I am passionate because as a nation we will grow better for it.
- Goldstein, Dana. (Published March 13, 2020, Updated March 17, 2020) Coronavirus Is Shutting Schools. Is America Ready for Virtual Learning? The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/13/us/virtual-learning-challenges.html
- Goldstein, Dana. (Published June 5, 2020,Updated June 10, 2020) Research Shows Students Falling Months Behind During Virus Disruptions. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/05/us/coronavirus-education-lost-learning.html
- Weir, Kristin.(Date created: September 1, 2020)What did distance learning accomplish? https://www.apa.org/monitor/2020/09/distance-learning-accomplish
- Interview with Tamisha Rodriguez, Sabrina Cruz, Jamie Walsh, and Sam Petz.