Tech & Learning talks with Diane Doersch and Kali Alford of Digital Promise (opens in new tab) about remote learning and digital equity.
Diane W. Doersch is technical project director at Verizon Innovative Learning Schools and Digital Promise (opens in new tab).
Kali Alford is associate director of professional learning, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools and Digital Promise (opens in new tab).
Equity now is an active consideration for educators immersed in remote learning. Thanks to COVID-19, educators should not assume that all students face comparable challenges in terms of being prepared for the school day. The unique challenges and responsibilities that students face at home need to be considered when designing learning activities, assessing mastery, and in the way learning support is made available.
Below is the full conversation
An opportunity to re-engage. Alford talked about how schools have had to be creative to get parents to the building--PTA meetings, STEM nights, pancakes with pop, muffins with mom, etc.--and now you have parents reaching out to schools because they want to learn how to support their students in this new remote learning environment. One suggestion how to support that is having Title I and family engagement specialists pull together resources and programming for parents. “They’re eventually going to run out of things to watch on Netflix, so it’d be great to have a talk from one of those specialists about the district educational resources that are available to them that maybe they didn’t even know about,” said Alford.
Watch with kids: Doersch suggested that the parents of younger children accompany their children in face-to-face opportunities, such as video conferences. Families also should be aware that educators and classmates may see what’s going to be in the background of a student’s broadcast area, and even if it’s well-intended, teachers should not be sharing pictures or videos of kids within a video conference without permission.
Classroom experience. Alford also suggested that this is also a good opportunity for teachers to impart some of the strategies that they’ve learned over the years in the classroom. “For example, how helpful would it be for a parent to learn how proximity could help you with multiple students at the dinner table?” Alford said. “Or the different linguistic approaches you can take: ‘I wonder if ….’ or ‘Why might ….’ Those kind of sentence stems that can be really helpful to get those student minds going.” Parents are finding that they’re not well-equipped to take on a lot of subjects as an instructor at home. So there are little pieces and nuggets of wisdom that teachers can impart easily.
Defusing frustration. Alford noted that both parents and teachers need to remember that there’s often a high level of frustration as there are challenging concepts students are still trying to learn, which is hard without on-site teacher support. Providing emotional support is often as critical as imparting knowledge.