As in many places, our local schools have just announced they will be opening with remote learning before (hopefully) transitioning to in person learning later in the year based on reliable data. This means families and schools have to begin to imagine a reality where kids are still home full time and many are transitioning back to in-person employment, working from home, or perhaps even facing unemployment.
Learning From Home
A pandemic is bad. Really, really bad. Disruption of this kind can expose cracks in all kinds of systems, leading us to question things that were a given just a short time ago: everything form compulsory K-12 public schooling and reliable food systems to representative democracy and capitalism.
While I in no way wished for, wanted or am happy about a global pandemic, I am glad about a few things. My family has never had more time together. My values have never been more clear. My skills have never been more evident. My faith in humanity has never been stronger. I am hopeful about quite a bit:
1. We are questioning what justice means in America, for all people, no matter their race or socio-economic status.
2. We are questioning the cost of peace and what it means for all people to be peaceful, vs. only the privileged.
3. We are questioning representation, who speaks for us in government and whether or not those voices are ones we trust to speak on our behalf.
Perhaps most importantly, I am questioning what the words family and home mean to me. I am appreciating more and holding tightly to the things I won’t be letting go once life returns to some semblance of normalcy.
One thing I am choosing to be hopeful about is the opportunity for students to learn from home. We are not home schooling or learning remotely/virtually in my family. We are learning from home. For me and my sons, this means our home is our learning environment. We are embracing the fact that learning takes place anywhere. Learning is but one goal of public education, but the true test of learning never happens in a school. It happens when we transfer what we know, understand and are able to do into the real world. Guess what? We are now in the “real world” full time!
To that end, I’m working on two major projects related to learning from home.
1. I am starting a neighborhood learning co-op with my educator neighbors. We are training “learning coaches”, ages 16 and up, to support remote learning in each home in our neighborhood. These coaches will help students complete their homework with the support of educators, on call, to help if they run into any difficulty, allowing parents to do other household tasks or work as needed. We are investigating how to safely teach K-1 students in person, with experienced kindergarten teachers, at our neighborhood park or in pods in neighborhood driveways and garages. We are also connecting older students with virtual peer tutors. The service will operate at cost, charging families only as much as it costs to pay the teachers for their time until schools can open back up.
2. I am starting a coaching service for families who would like to talk to someone about how to balance schoolwork with other family responsibilities and structures. I will listen and learn from each family about their unique situation and help them craft a two week plan to help their child succeed educationally and help the family function smoothly in a time that can be difficult to do either well. (Learn more at https://edjacent.teachable.com/p/edjacent-remote-learning-coaching)
I think there is tremendous opportunity to learn from home. For me, the opportunity includes a closer relationship with my neighbors, an authentic application for the skills I’ve developed and a chance to help families cope so that they do not have to sacrifice safety for family harmony. It also means our children will begin to see learning as something they do anywhere any time, not just when they are in school.
We have a chance to make kids think this is the best thing that ever happened. We can teach them to find joy in learning, build their confidence, embrace their community and family and develop self confidence that will last well beyond our quarantine.
Let’s make that choice.