Fellow educators, what are your thoughts?
photo credit: Maia Liebeskind
March 18th, 2020 (week two, here in NYC)
A week ago (which of course feels like a month ago), I interviewed an American tech integrator at a K-12 international school in China, where they have been teaching virtually for more than six weeks. As I listened to her experiences and suggestions, I was struck by how her school’s experiment amplifies the most critical issues in education today: equity, teacher agency, student voice, parent involvement, social-emotional wellbeing, accountability and authentic assessment. I started writing up our conversation, one part how-to, one part editorial, a weird piece for a weird time. (Rough draft linked here, if you care to read it.)
But a peculiar thing happened as I was writing. Passionate educator though I am, I started to feel that perhaps it isn't critical, in the larger scheme of things, to teach online for the next few months. I teach because I fully believe in the power of education to build community, grow thoughtful, active citizens, and promote solutions to the profound issues of our time. I love my work. But if we close our schools down entirely during these difficult months—offline and on—for the greater good, or because online options aren’t working for everyone, it will be alright. Students will learn, as will we, from Italians singing on their balconies. From a parent helping an elderly neighbor. From the ways, both positive and negative, that we respond to this crisis. Some of the learning will be heartbreaking. Some of it will be a light coming through a crack.
And then again... maybe the connections we are facilitating, and the tiny semblance of normalcy are our contribution during this time. Maybe they're consequential. I keep vacillating.
Are you teaching online? Please weigh in.
I've been blogging since 2010. When I've got writer's block in every other way (frequent), this low stakes riffing to think has been a constant. Over the digital years, I've had a half dozen or so blogs including a travel blog and a reading blog, both on Blogger, and an all-purpose blog on tumblr where I wrote about education, social equity and anything else that sparked me. I also posted some of my published print work on my website. My shit is all over the internet. I'll be using this space for the occasional blog post, now.