Remote Teaching Discoveries
7 teachers share about the reality of teaching outside the classroom
Voices behind the virtual lessons
In 2020, school closures affect over 1.1 billion students worldwide. This massive shift from classrooms to dining room tables happened overnight. Everyvoice took some time to hear teachers’ stories. Those who have endured such a big change in their daily routine. Those who have found new ways of connecting with their students. Teachers who continue to guide and encourage their students to keep on learning.
Using unfinished sentences as prompts such as:
The types of in-class conversations that I feel like my kids miss the most are…
The difference between in-person and remote lesson planning is…
The most effective way to engage my students in conversation during remote learning is…
We heard about everything. From helicopter-parents on Zoom calls to classes where half the kids didn’t have access to a laptop. And kids who seem to be doing way better now that they have more freedom.
What people said that didn’t surprise us.
No one we spoke with said the quick transition to remote teaching went “to plan.” It was a new experience for everyone. We weren't surprised that remote teaching was challenging. Imagine having zero time to prepare, no best practices to follow, and a whole lot of questions coming at you.
Much of the current education system is set up as one-size-fits-all. Now that kids aren’t in a classroom, it’s obvious that each child is unique. Under these circumstances, they lose the benefit of peer learning in the classroom. Differing needs based on kids’ various learning styles become obvious. Some kids need a more rote learning structure. Others thrive on inquiry-based learning.
Students from wealthier areas were more equipped with technology for remote learning. Those from poorer areas have to make things work, scramble for devices, or miss out completely.
Students of all ages experience a big social impact. They are missing both times to play together and learn from each other. One teacher schedules unstructured calls. This is a safe half-hour in which the students can show each other toys, tell stories, and relax.
No one could predict the amount of online engagement they’d get from kids. Some schools set a goal of kids logging in two days a week. That infrequent contact would be unthinkable in an in-person schooling environment! Someone else took to planning offline days on Wednesdays to ensure children weren’t spending excessive amounts of time looking at screens. Pre-school teachers emphasized encouraging children to get out into their... homes to explore and learn in real life.
The remote learning environment upended the age-old concept of grading assignments. How do you assess students remotely? How can you score homework and test grades if you can’t observe how they interact in the classroom daily? How do you grade and judge a student’s understanding of a subject?
What people left unsaid.
Some topics still don’t organically come up in conversation. Nobody brought up financial concerns, even though the news media bombards people with talk of economic downturn, unemployment figures, furloughs, and cutbacks. Naturally, some of our subjects must be facing some financial worries, yet not a single person shared related feelings.
Was that the nature of the interview-subject relationship, or does it reveal a norm of not expressing financial anxiety? How might we destigmatize speaking up so people can benefit from mutual support? We don't yet know the extent of the financial and psychological toll this crisis is having on people. These seventeen peoples’ employers will shape how they understand and navigate financial risks, and provide a crucial network for support.
The things people learned about themselves.
"How have the last several weeks changed your perspective on what’s important, and what it means to be human?" People responded sharing how they were rediscovering old hobbies, reconnecting with longtime friends, and learning new ways of spending time with loved ones. These replies were gentle but powerful reminders that money isn't everything. In most cases, people appreciated this unexpected time now available for aspects of life previously pushed to the margins.
Benefits & Impact
Teachers have the chance to try new ideas. They had the chance to change things about their lesson planning and execution.
Finding collegial support from other faculty members
Showing up for kids even through a screen to say hello and provide comfort.
Driven to be resourceful. Teachers found the tools they, and their students, need to get through this time. This includes developing new skills to teach online.
One negative impact is the realization of a lack of support and appreciation.
What are the pathways?
How to apply this to the road ahead.
We held these conversations to uncover the deep issues remote workers need addressing. These challenges are deeply human and personal. In our conversations, seventeen people shared seventeen different stories. Solutions are not one size fits all. Abstract numbers and percentages won’t reveal the pathways to solutions. Therein lies the value. You can build a more resilient organization by treating your employees as individuals and empowering them to reach their potential.
As you embark on conversations with your own employees, consider asking them:
How can parents manage to work full-time and to teach full-time?
How can the company be more transparent about finances?
How can the company help employees by sharing risk and reward with them?
What kind of support do employees need now that is different from “before?”