A friend of mine has two young school-age boys, kindergarten and second grade. The other week she posted a photo of her youngest slumped over the kitchen table with his head down, feeling discouraged about his online experience. Our district is offering remote learning only through Fall Break in early October, maybe longer.
There are many opinions about what to do and how to do it when it comes to this new world of school. However, there are two goals upon which we all seem to agree:
- Safety first.
- Instill a love of learning.
So, what can we do to achieve these two goals during this moment of history?
Firstly, we must acknowledge that safety encompasses body, mind, and spirit. If young students are feeling defeated, then we must change our methods of teaching and learning. We must relentlessly question what and how we are teaching until we find ways that effectively connect with our students and simultaneously empower them. Yes, this requires an incredible amount of effort by both teachers and parents. Together, we are creating a new education system.
Secondly, we need to remember that our goal is not to check off the boxes to say that we did what was required. Instead, we want to teach to the heart of children, inspiring them with wonder, delight, and beauty so that they long to engage in learning for a lifetime. Technology affords us this opportunity. No longer are students required to memorize facts and figures. Instead, they can google that. What cannot be found online is the assimilation of knowledge to solve problems and create new solutions.
Let’s dream together. What if we break out of the classroom and beyond the screen? Here are some ideas:
- Encourage students to read classics that spark their imaginations, such as L.M. Montgomery, Jack London, Richard Wright and more.
- Assign outdoor time to observe and classify birds, trees, and other species.
- Utilize project-based challenges for virtually connected groups of students.
- Incorporate technology as a creative tool for photo albums, vlogs, posters, and more.
- Provide hands-on supplies for science and art projects that students can do at home with family members.
- Offer practical tips to empower parents to teach their children.
- Support the SEL objectives of your school community through a strategic social media campaign.
These ideas provide opportunities to learn on-screen and off-screen, maintaining a healthy relationship with technology as a tool rather than as the master.
Although there are some who are overwhelmed by this new day, I, for one, am optimistic. We are forging innovation in education, even as we return to the basics. What we must keep at the center of all we do is the children.
As we teach, remember…
We work for the family!
Smile at your kids!
Tell your kids that you are glad to see them!
Thank them for showing up!
Give attention to the ones doing what they are supposed to do!
Focus on success!
Teach your kids, not the material!
About the author
Tamara Fyke is an educator and social entrepreneur with a passion for kids, families, and urban communities. She is the creator and author of Love In A Big World, which provides mental health, SEL, and wellness curriculum and content. During quarantine, Tamara created MusiCity Kids, an online educational show for kids ages 6-12 that addresses health, movement, character development, STEAM, and more.
Tamara is editor of Building People: Social & Emotional Learning for Kids, Schools & Communities, a book that brings 12 wide-ranging perspectives on SEL to educators, parents, and leaders. Follow her on Twitter .