Yes, distance learning has existed for quite some time, but there is a difference between something that is planned and structured, versus something that is cobbled together on the fly. And it's hard to meet students' needs in an equitable fashion, when there are issues of internet and device access.
Vicky Krug, of Westmoreland County Community College, continues to use the Brain Targeted Teaching model, during this period of pandemic schooling. "My first priority is really checking in on their emotional well-being, before tackling academic objectives, because they're not going to pay attention to me, if they're scared about their health or resources, etc," she says. "I need to make sure they're ok before I can get their attention."
This goes back to Brain Target 1 and ensuring that the emotional climate is conducive to learning.
From here, it can get a little tricky. It's hard to make the case for schedule and consistency when everything in the world seems chaotic and unpredictable. With this in mind, Krug lets students know that she will adapt her schedule to work with them as best she can. This might mean doing a walking Zoom call so that her students can get outside for some fresh air and talk about psychology fundamentals.
So how is she handling the question of engagement and just making sure students show up? After all, you don't have the boundaries of four walls and a physical learning space to
Krug reminds me that there are only so many things you can control, "If I notice a student is absent for more than one or two classes, I'll call them to see what I'm missing. In one case, a student was struggling with navigating some economic hardship issues, so we walked though resources. Another was spending more time gaming, so that made me think about how I could use gaming in my teaching to make things more engaging."
She continues, "Teaching during coronavirus has pushed me, and I think teachers in general, to really clarify the learning objectives and rubrics for assessment. Not that I didn't before, but you can clarify so much more during a face to face interaction. I'm also very aware of relevancy, more than ever in fact, because things need to adhere to a higher sense of purpose, rather than just being a spot on the curriculum to cover."
For now, Krug is pushing though the technology learning curve and trying to ensure no one falls through the cracks right now. And that means shifting and adapting on the go because, "We have to meet our students where they are."
Hats off to Vicky and teachers everywhere.