Virtual Education

Photo by Kat J on Unsplash

As an educator this pandemic has plunged me into the world of virtual education along with the rest of the country’s educators. I will gladly admit I am not a fan of virtual education.

My peers and I are working harder than ever to learn how to engage our students on this new platform. Of course there are the the technical problems of losing internet service during class, being dropped from Google meets, and adding to children’s screen time for the sake of education. But it is more than that.

I am working with elementary students with special needs. Very few of them are flourishing when I look at them on the screen. I see them spinning in their chairs, blank stares looking at the screen, a lot of foreheads, their icon when they turn their camera off and that is if they are logged on.

The virtual classroom is not the best classroom design for a large number of the students with special needs. That includes students who have the ability to access the virtual educational platform.

Virtual education highlights a curious problem with student management.

Student management, and ultimately student engagement, has reached a new level of concern. Time on task is a major issue and not just for students with Attention Deficit Disorder. Home environment, attitude, the mental health of our students all play a role. One to one time between a student and teacher helps, but at some point you run out of manpower to do that.

Even more troubling are the parents who depend solely on the school environment to keep their children engaged. Parents tell me, “I can’t make her log on,” “he will put in math time, but not reading.” These are students who do not exhibit that same defiance at school. Unfortunately we can not reach through the computer to nudge, encourage or reward in the moment.

There have always been students who don’t turn in homework, or don’t do the homework to begin with. But once they arrived at school, teachers could work with the students, see what they knew and work with them to fill in the gaps. Now we just see a blank stare, and spinning chair, an icon or a blank screen.

These are disheartening times for teachers and parents. Parents or other family members have been put in the position of picking up the slack of helping their children learn at home. And teachers feel guilty about that.

Or at least this teacher does.

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Writing stories through the lens of personal growth, parenting and 40+ yrs in special education. Twitter @abel2readaloud, IG @tinyteapottales

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S. G. S. Abel

S. G. S. Abel

Writing stories through the lens of personal growth, parenting and 40+ yrs in special education. Twitter @abel2readaloud, IG @tinyteapottales

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