We have been very impressed with the work of our teachers, who have migrated to home learning platforms with tremendous efficiency and creativity during this global pandemic. Teachers have been very busy preparing lessons, providing feedback on learning, connecting with students, working through year-end transition processes and supporting the social and emotional well-being of students. Teachers have and continue to be available to students and families through various means of communication.
Parker Grimmer – PEI Public Schools
The public school boards messaging across all the platforms its engaged in usually espouses the outmost in positivity. It’s all rainbows and sun, and “everything is beautiful, in it’s own way.” I get it, this is part of their job to highlight the good work that the teachers do throughout the province.
Generally most of the email communication from the PSB is long winded and difficult to read through, particularly when it comes after an evening meal and I feel like having a nap, but last nights email caught my attention immediately, particularly because of the first paragraph which seemed to come from a different reality all together.
In fact, when I first read it, I yelled out, “what nonsense is this!”
While there has been “learning” occurring during this time at home, there has been no “schooling”. It was my understanding that teachers were under strict guidelines to not attempt to teach, how else could we explain what has been occurring. Nothing new has been attempted at the intermediate level, with review worksheets sent out with the answers attached, and little to no communication from teachers at all levels. Having kids watch a video is not teaching. Some teachers of course, despite instructions to the contrary, have been communicative, giving new material and immediate replies to questions. They have been wonderful.
The PEI Home and School sent out a question to parents recently, asking for our experiences during the pandemic, in my reply:
- I commented on how teachers were not allowed to experiment with various online teaching methods and how that seemed like a terrible mistake. What better time to try, and fail, when it’s all review and no marks are being counted.
- I shared how my kids couldn’t even reach their teachers with questions and how many teachers would simply send out some simple worksheets with the answers attached. Kids see this for what it is and realize it’s largely a waste of time.
- What has happened as that parents have had to fill in the role of teacher, which most of us are unprepared for, and while trying to work from home.
- There was an overwhelming theme of not wanting to “stress” the kids with work, or a trend of taking time together as a family. I countered that sometimes keeping kids minds occupied with schooling reduces the stress from what is happening around them. Working hard, or working in general, is not a bad thing, even during an outbreak.
- I noted that the most stressful part of this whole pandemic, after the initial shock, was trying to play the role of teacher, while knowing that our children were being let down academically.
- Lastly, I also stated, based on our unfortunate experience with viral outbreaks, that I had little confidence that any plans were being formulated to return kids to school and deal with the inevitable return of COVID-19. Have they started training teachers? Any negotiations started to change the length of the school year? Virus mitigation procedures?
I’m writing this in a hurry as I do with all my blog posts. Issues like this require more articulate responses than I have time for, or talent to give. But the PSB’s eagerness to bend any fact to fit the communication purpose at hand required some kind of response into the abyss.