After a year of remote learning, there are differences in the learning system that are noticeable today. Firstly, is my new role being the position a hybrid teacher is now a social worker and academic teacher. It is my job to teach and take care of my students social charges/needs. Secondly, there is difficulty conducting parent-teacher communication as it requires flexibility of schedule from both parties, which has proven exhausting. Thirdly, there is a job redundancy since the teacher or records must fill in the social worker invention form to have it returned. The teacher is then required to supply the same answers from the student. That is avoidable by a simple phone call from the counselor to the student’s family to fill the form.
After identifying the problem, I took it upon myself to build a parent academy with the school principal’s approval. The academy is yet in the planning stages, but we plan on launching it in August 2021. The project has been instrumental in bringing parents together to solve some of the problems we face. Notably, there is a lack of counselors in the planning group. Therefore, it is of interest because counselors do not see the project as one that should be of interest towards fulfilling their roles. After following up on this, the most common answers I received were that they were too busy and their commitment to teaching or being called upon to provide substitute coverage and counseling students they could not spare time for the academy. That has raised the question of if bureaucracy in public schools is affecting the delivery of services. That is concerning because the public requires results from the education system.
Nevertheless, the academy is still in the planning stage, and we have engaged the public and business sectors to provide for a mentorship program. The parents and students must work together to ensure the all-round growth of our students.
Continuous learning, hybrid learning, and blended learning are terms utilized in defining teachers’ return to school by March 15. Online learning occurred between the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and this period where teachers are required to return to school, to their designated classrooms. However, students are granted the option to participate in remote learning.
The opinions regarding the return to classrooms proposals vary, with some vehemently opposing it. For instance, teachers disagree with each other, citing the overplaying their hand in letting students suffer through distance learning. There are also lingering questions concerning teachers’ silence over time, with reasons such as a fear of retaliation and isolation being cited. Teachers point to the fear of their contracts not being renewed and the subsequent “blow back” from not engaging in group think. In my opinion, this is quite unbelievable because this is a free world. Teachers should be heard, and after this, a return-to-work framework that favors them should be put in place.
Those supporting returning to classrooms, especially parents, argue that the right to accessing proper education was violated through remote education. Furthermore, individual learning strategies were not adequately addressed, resulting in the plans becoming ineffective over time. This resulted in substantial learning disparities between students. My opinion, based on the above, is that the option of remote learning should not be granted to students since the learning plans may not work.
In conclusion, I concur that teaching is a calling. Therefore, the debate concerning returning to classrooms should involve heavy consultation with teachers to formulate an appropriate return-to-work strategy. This will require cooperation from teachers and parents, and will be vital through the start of the healing process. However, I oppose the idea that those viewing the task as hard should quit their jobs because we need everyone’s input for an adequate return to class strategy. Therefore, instead of them quitting, they should offer ideas to facilitate learning in a post-Covid world.
Catherine Barrett is an Arizona Governor’s Master Teacher and currently Chair of citizens initiative petition, A Classroom Code of Ethics For Public Schools K-12. You can find her on Twitter @ReadersLeadPD, and on Facebook at Yes4Ethics