The Classroom to Come: A Few Musings

My son, age 10, exploring microscopes. This is, we know, a home activity not available to many, and we are grateful to have it available to us.

As I constantly adjust to the shifting sands produced by the COVID-19 situation, I’ve been thinking a good deal about what is to come for schooling, in particular. If, as I suspect, we end up looking at something like “rolling blackouts” for occupation of school buildings (with the emergence of a case at a school triggering a learn-from-home protocol), how can schools, teachers, families, and students best prepare? What are the sorts of realities that would govern that situation? What is the amalgam of best practices for online instruction and classroom instruction, and how can we work around the unknown nature of the school year in such a hybrid environment to plan for a consistent and mostly-seamless educational experience? And the 20 billion (or so) dollar question: what happens to our assessment protocols and results usage when we can no longer control the scene of instruction?

As I take up these questions in subsequent posts, I’ll also be thinking through the following thoughts as I go. These are some of the “realities” I suspect we’ll need to deal with, and I know I’ll be giving them more thought as I progress:

  • Not all students have access to the same resources, support, and time.
  • Learning from Home isn’t the same as homeschooling, nor should it be.
  • Learning and teaching are two ends of the same event. The learning mind is the active-in-the-moment mind. The teaching mind is present, but isn’t necessarily organic or alive.
  • Hybrid environments require attainable baseline elements for all. That means that everyone in the learning situation needs to be able to reasonably expect all participants to have access to the same things. Our current school environments only operate that way in so far as the school building itself can make those elements available at the point of instruction. Learning from Home doesn’t have the same consistency.
  • We’ve done this before. We can do it again.

Finally, a note: I’m thinking of this “project” in terms of K-12 education, but as an 18 year college educator, of course I’ll be thinking in those terms as well. The spaces are dramatically different, one of the most profound differences being the K-12 environment’s long-term and critical role in loco parentis; we expect that our children will be watched during the school day so that we may do our own work in the world without having to also manage their care and supervision. The college student is a legal adult, and while they have needs that I know all too well, this particular need is, by and large, not one of them. So I’ll be taking that into account along the way, too.

Questions? Thoughts? Please feel free to sound off in the comments; I’ll respond and bring in your voices as I go.

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