Generous by nature, smart, innovative, caring, child centered she has taught elementary school for a little over 20 years. She has been in all grade levels K-5, as both a regular education teacher and a special educator. She loves her students. Never gives up. Has a crazy sense of humor and is passionate about her students' success.
Her name is Lisa. I have written about her before. She is the one who has the sign on her desk that goes something like this: The child sitting in front of me is living the life they have been given, my job is not to make it worse. You can imagine how she feels knowing that despite her best efforts she is failing her students.
She is currently teaching Kindergarten - virtual and in-person at the same time. She spends most of her time just trying to get the attention of the 5 year olds who have no experience of what school is like.
When she is focused on the children sitting in the classroom she loses the little ones in the virtual environment and vice versa. She feels as if she is herding cats and puppies. As much as this is not right for her - she knows this is not right for them.
The children have a very long day. They wear masks except when eating. They bring their own toys for recess. Their backpacks weigh far too much for 5 year olds to carry. They come to school before breakfast, eat 2 meals and snack in the classroom. They never leave the classroom unless they get to go outside. All special area teachers come to their room. They start before 8 and end at 3:30.
She prepares daily lesson packets that are stapled together in the order they will be used and yet she spends a good deal of time explaining what page they are on because so many little ones do not understand what the next page means.
While she is doing this in the presence of the students in her classroom she is trying to teach her kiddos on the other side of the screen. Some of them have no one in close physical proximity to assist them. She needs to be their helper in a virtual space.
Anyone who knows me understands that the minute I hear something like this my mind goes at ‘WARP SPEED’ into what we can do differently. The school district is forced to change the academic model due to the pandemic. We all get that. We know it is not working for the majority of our students.
Why are we insisting on combining the 18th -20th century model of school with 21st century learning at the same time, on the same day? Every adult that has attended a virtual meeting knows it is not the same as in person. How often have we heard ‘if you are multi-tasking come back to me’?
Would it be more beneficial for our youngest students to attend in-person school two days a week as a split class? They would get their excellent teacher’s undivided attention. Instead of her normal 25 she would have about 12 students.
Logic would tell us, she would be infinitely more effective with the 12 she has on those two days than she is with the in person/virtual split. The children who are not in school could work on review packets at home.
The 5th day of the week could be an all virtual day. Everything would be directed to the students at home. Teachers reading from big books, storytelling and math games, PE, Art and Music would take place on this day too. All big movements that young children could manage without adults helping them.
These youngest of learners have no frame of reference as to what is expected in school. They have no actual model to refer back to as what ‘school looks like and how I participate’. In a year we will be talking about these little ones and their lack of executive functioning skills.
Vince Lombardi said: Practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect. Let’s give our youngest learners a chance at perfect.