Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Some Thoughts on Hybrid & Remote Teaching

Districts around the globe are talking about having a hybrid model when returning to school.  In a hybrid model, students attend school 1 - 3 days a week. In some districts, they'll have a remote teacher and a face-to-face teacher who will teach them at a six-feet-apart distance and students will be six feet apart from each other.  

How will this work? 

First let's take a moment to review.

Lessons learned from remote teaching

Remote teaching taught us a many things. Here are two:

  1. Have a drop date each week:  This is the date that you drop your lessons in advance so students understand the expectations of their upcoming work for the week.
  2. You don't need to teach live: You can use videos of yourself teaching or you can have a video from a renknowned expert teaching or you can have a video of a student teaching. This is what they do in the successful flipped classroom model.  

So the question becomes this. If you have a flipped or in flipped classroom (where you can watch the lesson at school) what does the remote and in-person teacher do? 

Consider the medium

First, it is useful to consider the benefits of each medium: 

  • In person at a physical distance
  • Remote
If you're in person, you can touch stuff. This means you can use resources in the classroom as long as you don't share, stay six feet apart from folks, and disinfect often. So, I guess in this sense, things like art, music, making (i.e. makerspace), science labs make sense. But, ask any regular public school teacher, and you'll find out the following:
  • There are not many robust art, music, makerspaces, or science labs.
  • If there are, much of it is funded from the teachers pocket.
  • This works because students share. It would be cost-prohibitive otherwise.
  • You are very lucky if you have these things running well in your school.
  • These subjects usually are not prioritized
So, yes, if you can have those hands on experiences in school with the cavaets required in a pandemic, then school kind of becomes lab time where students do hands on work, perhaps after watching a video showing them how. 

When tech teaches, what do teachers do?

For the rest of folks who do not have art studios, makerspaces, and science labs, it comes down to your job consisting of the following: 

  • Relationships: When technology provides the on-demand lecture and feedback, teachers have more time to develop relationships with students.  Students want to be seen, heard, and known. Technology enables teachers to better know their students for who they are as a whole as well as their talents, interests, and areas where they want to grow.
  • Guidance: Young people need and want guidance. Teachers can spend more time guiding and supporting students.
  • Tutoring: When whole class instruction can be done using technology, teachers are freed up to do small group and one-on-one tutoring. 
  • Digital Literacy: Teachers can play an important role in helping to support students in being responsible and respectful digital citizens.
  • Learning Network Development: Connections are key and with technology we can help students safely make local and global connections.  What if we found a mentor for every student that could support them digitally and/or face-to-face.
  • Cheerleader: Students love knowing you know their accomplishments.  More time to notice what students have accomplished. Discuss what that means and give them support.

When technology is infused into learning, the way it has been during the pandemic, the teacher's time is freed up to do much more of the work that is so important for learning.  This transforms the role of the teacher who can engage in these activities whether you're in person or face-to-face. 

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