I’ve lost track now of how many weeks we are into remote learning in Ontario but I believe it is nine weeks and entering our tenth. I have been doing a lot of self-reflection throughout this process both as an educator and parent and felt it helpful to write this post as I consider how the rest of the year might look now that we know we won’t be returning to the classroom in June.
One of the areas that has really stood out to me in remote learning has been my privilege and the need to examine it carefully and thoughtfully when creating or delivering curriculum. Privilege could be an entire blog post and is an area that requires further exploration, but I would recommend watching Black Skin: White Masks Racism, Vulnerability and Refuting Black Pathology by Ruha Benjamin. Ruha states:
One of the things that’s coming to light is how the global spread of a microscopic virus is placing the ravages of racism and inequity under the microscope. But the fact is, we don’t all see the same thing! Racism has a way of actually DISTORTING our vision. Intertwined with many other forms of social domination, racism is mercurial, innovative, even viral.
A CBC article I read on-line referred to Pandemic Privilege, which reminded me to be mindful that words matter more than ever and suggested maybe it’s time to “reassess the vocabulary of our pandemic”. One of my colleagues Donna Indrakumaran suggested we reassess our vocabulary altogether. On Twitter she wrote that privilege was always there and now it is just exposed at a greater magnification that we can learn from and change. I believe this statement may exemplify what many of us have come to realize during this pandemic and in education it is no different.
Differentiation is key during this time and one way to approach privilege. Everyone is adapting to the current situation differently and as time goes on how we adapt is also changing. Some students are continuing their studies and adapting to the situation, while others are not. Given everyone’s unique experience, patience, compassion and empathy is needed more than ever. As time continues, it is likely that some students will lose interest and have already started to. One of the teaching strategies I have found successful and was inspired to try from Tina Zita and Melanie Mulcaster, has been choice boards which have been well received. As well, moving forward I am thinking of using genius hour/passion projects, which would hopefully help to engage students while allowing them to continue to explore who am I. Lastly, I have learned less is more. Everything seems to take longer in remote learning and distractions are plentiful. When assigning work or interacting with colleagues I have tried to maintain a less is more attitude.
Focus on Well-Being
Be kind to yourself and others. At the start of this pandemic I was blessed to participate in a webinar with educator Sandra Chow who was already 7 weeks into remote learning. Sandra writes in a blog post for ISTE:
First, learn to be kind to yourself. You might feel like time is against you, and everything needs to be polished and completed yesterday, but if you let go of perfection, you’ll find that you do not need to cross all the “T’s” Waiting another day will not be the end of the world.
She stressed the importance of kindness and collaboration during these challenging times and I couldn’t agree more. I have tried to embed well-being into my lessons and delivery of materials and personally with myself and family.
Stay well friends