Teaching during the Pandemic - Martin

Teaching during the Pandemic is simply not business as usual. As part of an on-going effort to share what teaching is actually like on the front lines, ETFO Waterloo asked members to share their experiences and are excited to present our "Teaching during the Pandemic: Stories from the Front of the Classroom" series to you. This submission is from local educator Martin. 

 

Distance learning has pushed my workload higher than ever. Everything must be done upfront and uploaded before my lessons can begin.

As a result, our teaching style has regressed and does not currently reflect best practice or sound pedagogy. It’s impossible to create or facilitate exploration of topics in the same way due to limited resources and reliance on a screen. Everything is content-driven, which is only suiting some of my learners.

The technology is woefully inadequate for what we need to do our jobs. Classroom meetings crash or lag daily. Online activities require at least five minutes of troubleshooting before we can commence. Teachers are usually staring at a screen of black-out boxes, unable to respond to non-verbal cues that are tremendously helpful in understanding each students’ progress. Engaging and interactive remote learning requires technology that costs more than this government’s $250 Chromebook.

Students regularly miss meetings or quickly log off after a teacher completes the lesson or instructions. They simply vanish and, as a result, will often fail to complete assignments due to the inability of the educator to provide ongoing or timely feedback. We must follow a trauma-informed approach while the mode of learning itself is only exacerbating trauma due to resulting massive gaps in a student’s learning. We cannot allow remote learning to become a norm.

My students have expressed their dislike and apathy towards distance learning. Some have openly said they’d rather be at school. Our most vulnerable students struggle more than ever, and attendance issues have doubled in many of our classes. Distance learning does not help these students succeed, and I feel helpless as there is nothing I can do to solve this problem. These students, many with complex learning needs, will move to the next grade, but I cannot confidently tell you what their future holds.

Ultimately I feel like distance learning is a cobbled-together, make-it-up-as-you-go-along mess. If forced to do this again next year, I will reconsider my position as an educator.

 

Martin B. is an ETFO Waterloo member teaching within the WRDSB. We thank him for sharing his story!

If you are an ETFO Waterloo member and would like to share your story, please click here.