SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s online home school is out for the summer. What worked and what didn’t with remote school and learning? What would you throw out and what do you keep?
Ben Horsley of the Granite School District joined Mary Richards, who filled in for Debbie Dujanovic last week, and Dave Noriega to discuss on Dave & Dujanovic.
“What is something that you learned through this that is maybe your biggest failure? Something that you’d said, you know what, we tried it out, we hated it, we’re getting rid of it,” Dave asked.
No consistency for parents during remote school
“One of the things that parents found very incredibly difficult was the lack of consistency from teacher and school and classroom to classroom,” Horsley said. “We had some teachers only using a handful of tools and apps.
“I know my own wife. I stayed home and helped her one day, and I never wanna do that again. For a little first-grade student. It’s not in my school district. I’m not gonna throw that other school district under the bus or the school or the teacher.
“We’re all figuring this out, right? She literally had 12 different apps that they were utilizing. She was going from one to the other. She had to use two different devices because a couple of these apps didn’t work so good on the Chromebook or the iPad or visa versa.
“We really need to help our teachers understand to be more consistent and universal with the handful of tools, so that our parents can get used to those items and be more consistent and supportive and helping with that. I think that’s a huge thing,” Horsley said.
Both Mary and Dave said they 100 percent agree with his assessment.
Jeff Haney, director of communications for Canyons School District, also joined the conversation about what to keep and what to jettison from the experiment in online, remote home school.
“One of the good things we’ve learned is how invested our community is in our schools,” Haney said.
“If it wasn’t clear before, it became exceedingly clear how important it is to have a strong school-to-home connection.
“I would say definitely the appreciation for the work that teachers do on a daily basis increased tenfold.”
More tech for teachers
“Is there something that you’ve learned and you said: We’ve got to change the way this is happening?” Dave asked.
“Making sure every teacher has been provided the professional development to know how to pivot quickly to technology. It takes training to take a term’s worth of in-person instruction and immediately turn it into a digital format. And do it so it’s high-quality instruction. And not just posting an assignment and expecting students to complete it and turn it in,” Haney said.
“Here’s the other big thing. This is the need: to continue increasing our capacity to use technology and to ask ourselves: How can kids have access? It’s an equity issue.
“What if a child doesn’t have a personal device at home? What if the home doesn’t have the internet? And those are serious hurdles for many of our students,” Haney said.
He added that a quarter of Canyons School District students qualify for free or reduced price lunches under the poverty index and that number could go up due to the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We have a lot of work to do, a lot of discussions to have, possibly with internet providers in our area about about how we can connect Canyons students to the internet in case we have to go into distance learning again,” Haney said.
Remote school is no substitute for the classroom
Dave says his biggest complaint about distance learning has been everyone has too much input.
Mary echoed Dave’s sentiment by saying as a parent, she has had to deal with multiple teachers, multiple websites and multiple children.
She said a teacher had told her the distant learning has positive features but that it was difficult to really be a teacher without the face-to-face time with students.
“Let’s figure out some way to be back in the classroom,” Mary added.
Dave said some elements of distance learning are worth hanging on to.
“We don’t need to be sitting in front of a teacher for seven hours a day,” he said. “But also we can’t be doing it all from home. It’s too incredibly difficult. And guess what? I’m a terrible teacher.”
Mary said the one thing she should like to see continue is more family time.
“I did not mind, looking back, all the more time I had with my family in the afternoon and evening,” Mary said. “We weren’t running here and there. We didn’t have activities or practices, which, in a part, was sad, but it was nice.”
“Maybe we don’t need to be on campus as much,” Dave said. “What’s one thing you’d throw away?”
“I would throw away all the websites, the instructions and logins for each one,” Mary said. “I was like an IT manager.”
“Oh, brutal,” said Dave.
“I did OK without the sixth-grade promotion,” Mary said. “I don’t need to sit in an auditorium for two hours.”
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