By José Carlos Chaves – Education degree student
On Saturday, March 14th, the Government announced that both public and private schools must close their doors in an attempt to avoid spreading the COVID-19 among students and teachers. This measure immediately meant that not only students but also parents needed to move from their usual job to a Work-From-Home (WFH) dynamic. People are now trying to perform just as they usually do at their job but from home; this includes teachers who are trying to show their students they can do the same amount of work online. However, as Barret titled her article, "Please do a Bad Job Putting Your Courses Online," (Barret-Fox, 2020) we need to set our priorities when deciding what to do in an online teaching session.
At this moment of uncertainty, online lessons are not the priority of most families. We are looking forward to answers, to coping to the next challenge this situation throws at us, and to getting along with the people we are living with 24/7. Teachers need to take all these factors into consideration, thus adapting their teaching to the circumstances. Most people think WFH and online learning are tools that will help them accomplish tasks just as they did when carrying out a regular life. We need to come to terms with the fact that both teachers and students are learning from this new challenge called online learning.
A common misconception is that you can put together a wonderful online course in a matter of days. However, practice proves differently: online courses demand a great amount of time in order to create a successful, enjoyable online course. This is a time when we need to acknowledge that we are humans, and that we are trying to figure this situation out together; this fact is of great importance in succeeding together.
It has never been a requirement for students to have unlimited access to the internet at home. Some of them are not computer literate despite their age; most of them are in the middle of the rare opportunity of spending time with their families. The attention span of a student sitting at home is greatly reduced if compared to that being at school sitting at a desk. When a teacher requires a student to log in a specific time, to turn in homework every day to prove she is working all the time, he is just replicating actions that take place in a physical classroom.
In this time of crisis, teachers are a connection with the community. Students trust teachers, and sometimes they go to them when in need. We are transforming regular classes into online learning, where we are also providing our students with the emotional tools they need to overcome crisis. This is an unprecedented time to teach students about resilience, emotional intelligence, mental health, and many other skills that they need right now. We are creating a sense of care for our students, we want them to feel safe and calm during this process, and being there for them is crucial.
Kamenetz writes an interesting quote when stating that what online education requires "is sort of a critical compassion, if you will, the ability to look at the situation as it really is. Figure out what's going on, how you can operate within that, and how you can be compassionate in that as well." (Kamenetz, 2020). Although we still need to comply with any school plan that was designed for the year, we need to understand that we are in this together, and the biggest learning opportunity as humans is happening right now. We must take advantage of it, and guide our students to learn through this circumstance. They will become better humans after all this is over.