Friday, May 08, 2020

Why Can't We All Teach Live During the Apocolypse?

Somehow this story in the Post got past me. The headline declares teachers across the city have abandoned live instruction. While it goes into the fact that some students lack the necessary technology to keep up with their peers, much of it is about people bemoaning the lack of available live streaming.

There's more to this story. For example, it was only yesterday that the DOE finally renewed the use of Zoom. But they did so with some crippling limitations.

For one thing, you can only use it with DOE email. How many city students actually have DOE email? Our school has a proprietary school email, and we signed every student up so as to enable remote instruction. However, my students with city-supplied iPads will still not be able to get on Zoom with our school address. Depend on the DOE to make things as difficult as possible.

There are other reasons why live instruction might not be ideal. I don't know how much experience Post readers have with it, but I've been doing it since the beginning. Imagine being a PE teacher, and demonstrating exercises for your students. Now they do it with you. Or maybe they don't, since all you can actually see is the avatars they've chosen for themselves. Who knows what they're doing on the other side of the screen?

Then you come to the undeniable fact that we do not, in fact, live in classrooms. I know a teacher who shares an apartment with five roommates and does not get a whole lot of privacy. I know another who's terrified of being photographed. I know one who is absolutely tech-phobic. I know several with young children who no longer have day care, young children who will not sit quietly. I know one who takes care of elderly relatives, and another with a disabled child who has violent tantrums.

There are plenty of teachers with circumstances I could not even imagine. Just as we can't be too hard on students during these times, we need to be understanding of teachers whose circumstances preclude teaching from their homes. You know how students can be homeless? I've known teachers who were homeless too. Should they broadcast from the shelter? From their uncle's sofa?

I live with my wife and my dog. There's a stereotype about little dogs being yappy, but mine is pretty quiet. While I'm teaching, he sits on the floor nearby. Sometimes he gives a quiet little growl demanding I pet him. But I can usually reach down while I'm teaching. Sometimes, if my students aren't answering questions, I'll pick him up and ask his opinion. Usually he says nothing, but sometimes he licks my face. My students like him better than they like me, though.

In any case, I have no issue doing classes in my dining room. In fact, I'm happy to finally find a use for my dining room. We used to use it only several times a year, but now I'm in there every day. Teaching live works for me. But just as many students have issues in their home that preclude participation, so do teachers.

Until and unless the city installs classrooms and provides computer equipment and assistance, broadband, child and senior care in each of our homes, that issue will persist.
blog comments powered by Disqus