How you Zooming?

When we were told to keep in contact with our students, it didn’t have to all be via Zoom.

I was reading through the comments on a Facebook post just now about fighting with children to do their homework and to get on their Zoom meetings. When I saw this comment (I hid the commenter’s picture and name):

 I just don’t understand how we are supposed to work full time and do this!!! The school work is a full time job! Tomorrow my daughter has 3 zoom calls in one day. YES 3 calls. And she has minimum 1 or 2 per day and 3 on Thursdays now ??

I blame this on M. Roberge’s blatant distrust of teachers when he wrote in a letter on May 20:

Continuation of distance learning The school year is not yet over, and must continue at a distance for all preschool, elementary and secondary school students in the CMM. To that end, I would like to remind school staff that full-time work is expected until the end of the school year. While the terms and conditions under which this work is performed may vary according to the needs of each school, the following guidelines must be observed: - The aim is for students to maintain their acquired learning and to continue their essential learning. - A weekly work plan provided by the teachers allows students to create a work schedule and structure their learning. - Increased availability enables the teaching staff to answer questions from both students and parents. - At the elementary level, a member of the school team will contact the student directly at least three times per week (by telephone or video conference). Contact should be more frequent with more vulnerable students. - At the secondary level, a teacher aid will be assigned to each student, while a resource person will be assigned to students with an individualized education plan. These staff members should contact the student at least once per week (by telephone or video conference), in addition to the group meetings held remotely. - Increased availability enables non-teaching education professionals to support vulnerable students and hold individual virtual meetings with students. It bears repeating that these guidelines must be followed. Now that the school staff in the CMM are able to devote all their energy to the continuation of distance learning, all students must be able to receive high-quality pedagogical support from this week forward until the end of the school year. I also want to remind you that the same conditions apply to students outside the CMM who continue their learning from home.

Nowhere in that letter did it say that we must teach via video conference all day all the time but we were reminded. And it bore repeating. That the school year wasn’t over. (Because, I guess, without that reminder we’d all be playing hooky and leaving our students and our professionalism to blow in the wind…)

So, the easiest way to prove you are doing something is to go live with it. And so we can thank our minister for the growing practice of the multiple daily Zooms for our students (which goes against research about focus and learning). Because, also, we weren’t given time to learn about teaching & learning from a distance. To figure out that a 6 hour school day does not translate into 6 hours of zoom / homework. To figure out how to transition ourselves and our students into this new way of teaching & learning.

Here are some what ifs that I have been thinking about that may help to ease this transition.

What if…

… we used video conference for connection instead of prioritizing delivery of content?

(because what our kids really need right now is a sense of connection with their peers and teachers)

What could connection look like?

… we video conferenced in small groups?

(because not all of our students need the same things at the same times. And our students who we think require more assistance may actually only need different assistance.)

What could small group video conferences look like?

Those are a couple of the what ifs I have been thinking about as we get going with distance learning in our classrooms in Quebec. We have an opportunity for greater connection, greater learning while being forced to think differently about it. These are things I will be bringing with me into the coming school year, though no one really knows what it will look like yet!