If you’re in Texas, Florida or other areas with a spike in the Covid-19 Curve, it’s probably becoming more and more clear to you every day that we may not be going back to school face to face in less than a month regardless of the current plans. It’s also probably clear to you that the way we “did” school for the last few months of the 2019/20 school year is unsustainable for everyone and was done as a response to a crisis, not a long-term solution. The thought of returning to “online school” THAT way makes everyone shudder, parents and students, yes, and especially teachers.
There’s more than one reason why, obviously, but identifying and solving ONE of the many problems we faced during that epic time will make a huge difference. The smartest school leaders we’re talking to are already making plans to do it, and you should TOO.
In order to understand the solution, it’s important to understand the problem we’re seeking to address here. The problem is this: To a face-to-face classroom teacher, “teaching” is actually many, many different jobs: curriculum writer, lesson planner, supervisor, disciplinarian, attendance taker, counselor, the list goes on. Most of these jobs must remain squarely with the teacher, but two of them can and should be dispersed in order to alleviate some of the enormous workload.
Here’s how it would work: Let’s say your school has five 2nd grade teachers (this model works as long as you have at least two). Two of those five teachers should be designated, based on interest and skills, as curriculum and lesson experts. The most technically skilled teachers should be chosen. After meeting with their entire team and deciding what will be taught and how, the job of this smaller team is to create all of the materials, lessons, etc. that students and parents will see. They will identify resources, make directional videos, and more to assure the materials students use for learning are ready to go for the ENTIRE team to use.
The rest of the team, in our scenario the other three teachers, have an equally difficult job, but at least they do not have two difficult jobs. The other three teachers are in charge of pushing out lessons and supervising completion. They will be conducting small group instruction, creating modifications for special education and gifted students, and most importantly, monitoring the learning and adjusting the lessons. What will this teacher’s day look like? They’ll be meeting with students through video chat and talking to students on the phone. Their job is to monitor the learning and communicate back to the group of two about what they are seeing, ie, misunderstandings that need to be clarified, adjustments that need to be made to the next lesson, etc.
There is no perfect solution for schooling in a global pandemic, but disbursement of duties for teachers is essential. It’s not safe or sustainable to continue to ask teachers to do so many different jobs that pull them in so many different directions. We’re hoping this idea helps!
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