As you enter a new confinement, what will you need?
That's the question I asked real teachers, people involved to the point of their dreams in the service of their students' success and well-being.
Of course they told me about the efforts (even described as admirable) of their administration, the hardware, software and everything in place to make their jobs easier, the caring technical support they received, the training resources available to them. What they appreciated most at critical moments when they had to improvise quickly to ensure "pedagogical continuity" were the self-help forums and collaborative tools they took advantage of to develop their online pedagogical approaches.
No one found it easy but their confidence gradually grew and continues to grow. As for saying what they need, their responses reassured me. Their needs are not so much about themselves as they are about their students.
Gaps that turn into abysses
What they found was that the gaps between their students have widened and most of the obstacles some face have taken on the appearance of impassable walls, icy moats, dead-end mazes.
For example, if complex family situations are already a handicap in the classroom, at a distance they become almost unbearable and teachers cannot intervene so much. The material poverty of some is revealed more acutely when even home Internet access proves unaffordable. Technical inexperience erects barriers that even a close accompaniment struggles to overcome as the prerequisites are so lacking.
The most frequent problems that limit the success of distance learning? Lack of availability when a single computer is requested by several family members, communication problems in the case of immigrant, single-parent or overburdened families, and space problems, especially when parents also have to work from home.
School departments go out of their way to provide equipment and coaching to every student who might need it, but as we see, technology is not always the main barrier.
The situations described by the teachers each call for individual solutions. For some a one-time accompaniment, for others an intervention with the parents, a proposal to collaborate with another family, the rearrangement of a room, the provision of a space outside the house, etc. The proposals are numerous, but all of them imply preparation before teaching, before the virtual classroom. It is before that problems must be solved.
In confinement, the virtual classroom period is often seen as a breath of fresh air, a stimulating time, a time marker, and even a period of calm for parents...as long as logistical and human problems are solved beforehand and the student is relatively autonomous.
Some teachers have fragmented their groups, others intervene individually or call on back-up resources to help. Some student-to-student initiatives have developed. Here again, preparation time, mobilization, for that is what it is all about, is paramount and is the wish that best synthesizes teachers' aspirations.
A well-prepared and trained group can deal with any unforeseen situation that comes within its remit. For a teacher, when it comes to teaching, he will be able to, for a student, he will know how to handle it.... but only to the extent that all have been able to prepare for it.
As we enter another lockdown, we can no longer speak of surprise; we are beginning to know what to do and the challenges that await. All that remains is to equip ourselves with the conditions to succeed in teaching and learning effectively.
Organizing an online classroom
Confinement of an institution: steering pedagogical and educational continuity
Teaching in a hybrid context. What evolution of pedagogical practices?
Educational continuity: a hybrid back-to-school [Checklist]
Succeeding with an online exhibition
Taking a distance learning course in a few days... but how?
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