Much has been said and written about distance learning. And while I had my reservations, I would like to think that I was an optimist about it and even pushed for it. Thinking that something relatively “normal” such as school will do my daughter good in this time of uncertainty.
Well, it’s our second week of distance learning. The good – my daughter is relatively doing good, she’s doing her tasks and coping with my help. The bad – I’m at my wit’s end and barely managing with all my tasks. Aside from distance learning, I’m also still working full time, doing household chores because we have no help thanks again to the pandemic, and also taking care of our youngest. I know our situations might be different but I’m sure that a lot of parents are in almost the same boat of busy as I am. And while I also understand that schools, administrators, and teachers are also coping with the situation, I would like to give my two cents on what they should consider as well – from a parent’s perspective. Here are a few things that I think can be improved when it comes to distance learning:
Limit the use of learning platforms/apps/software to one or two
It’s ok to use one or two platforms, but please don’t use 4 or 10 and expect young kids and their parents to follow everything. You see, parents of young kids also need to familiarize themselves with each platform and set it up for their kids’ use. And young kids cannot also be expected to switch from one platform to another seamlessly – we’re lucky if we can get them to switch from one window to another. So please help us by not giving us activities that require them to switch from MS Teams to Seesaw to Quizzit to Genyo and back again. Stick to one or two platforms and maximize its full potential.
Set an SOP or workflow for all teachers
Please set a standard operating procedure or workflow for teachers when it comes to asking for homework submissions. Again, let’s try to keep everything organized and easy for kids and their parents to submit all requirements. Schools and administrators should set clear and consistent guidelines to their teachers regarding the following:
- Where official announcements and requirements should be posted
- Naming of files – across all subjects. Moms have foggy brains so please don’t ask us to remember 3 to 5 file submission formats (especially for moms with multiple school kids)
- How and where to submit worksheets and activities – again, if it’s Seesaw stick with it for all subjects. Please don’t ask parents to submit one file on Seesaw, one file on MS Teams, and so on
I understand that teachers can use the approved apps based on their needs, but using 5 or more platforms is more confusing and taxing for both parents and kids. At the same time, having a consistent SOP among all teachers and subjects makes it easier for parents to manage the tasks and establish routines with their kids (and eventually, allow kids to do the tasks on their own in the platform).
Ensure that all teachers are knowledgeable about the official learning platforms and apps
Teachers should be the first one to know the ins and outs of the platform so that they can use it fully based on their needs. I think the problem with my aforementioned points is that the teachers themselves are not fully-acquainted with the platforms. This then results in using other platforms and resources that they feel are better suited or providing a different channel or way of submission than provided – which then leads to more confusion and stress.
Help parents keep up
We’ve accepted the fact that we’re more involved in this school year compared to the previous ones. And we are trying to help you. But please help us as well by making the schedules and tasks clear and concise. And easy for us to find and follow. Please do not ask us to spend how many hours each day looking for assigned tasks among the number of platforms you are using. Please do not ask us to go back and forth between each platform or learning management system just to answer one day’s worth of activities. Please do not ask us to spend a few hours each weekend printing packets and worksheets only to go back and print additional worksheets again on weekdays. Please don’t make it a treasure hunt for us every day.
I know that everyone’s adjusting and coping right now and I’m extremely grateful that learning is still possible at this time. But I also think that much still needs to be done. And hopefully, as long as both sides are open to feedback and willing to adapt and do what needs to be done.
Good luck, teachers and teacher mamas!