Sunday, June 07, 2020

Hybrid Learning

I'm wary of hybrids. About a year ago, I bought the car you see here, a Rav4 hybrid. It's supposed to get over 500 miles to a tank of gas, but for some reason, it registers full at 10 rather than 14.5 gallons. Toyota tells me they're working on the problem, but they've been saying that since September. I'm growing to doubt their good intentions.

Speaking of September, it's rapidly approaching. What the hell are we going to do with 1.1 million kids who need an education? In our school, we're now discussing having a third of the students come in, while the other two-thirds watch us remotely. That way, we'd have no more than 12 students in a classroom at a time, and perhaps we could meet CVC guidelines. In a moderately imperfect world, that would work, I suppose.

So remote learning will go on, one way or another. My feeling is remote learning is better than nothing. The TV commercials pushing cyber-charters make it out as a panacea, but that's only because they're watching their bottom line and ignoring reality. Human interaction is a huge factor in education, and I'd never have been in it this long otherwise. But better than nothing, so far, is the best thing I can say about it. 

Here's the thing, though. If we, say, group our students into A, B, and C, let's say alphabetically, that would indeed mean only a third of the population was in the building at any given time. However, that does not indicate that there would only be 12 students in my classroom, or yours. Maybe, because of the way the alphabet falls, there would only be eight. Or maybe there would be eight in your class and fifteen in mine.

Actually, as an ESL teacher, I have a lot of Chinese students, and a lot of their names favor the end of the alphabet. I'd probably have more students on the third day than the first or second. Of course we could redistribute the names, but your class may not have the same alphabetical idiosyncrasies. In fact, no matter how we fix this, I can't envision a way in which class sizes will be uniform.

So what do we do when the class sizes get too high for safety? Send the kids to the auditorium to watch the classes remotely? That might work, if we trusted the students to do so. Maybe they could wear earphones, so they don't have to listen to 99 other classes. Certainly a lot of students have them, and wired earphone, at least, are fairly inexpensive.

Are we going to continue to allow students to show avatars rather than faces? While the students are in their homes, and while their homes are none of our business, I'm certain we'd have better results if we could actually see our students. I have students who don't answer, sometimes, and they say they're in the bathroom. Maybe they could turn their avatars on to let us know that, and then we would call on them when they aren't in the bathroom. I have a strong feeling those making the decisions, since they have no experience whatsoever in remote learning, will simply ignore this altogether and hope for the best.

And let's say we work this out. In our school, we have several rooms that are converted closets. They have inadequate ventilation. They were a minor health hazard before Covid, but they're a major health hazard now. What about the trailers? Who knows how the air is inside those monstrosities? Half of the windows don't open, and even when they did the air was perpetually stale.

Guidance counselors have tiny offices, designed for very small meetings. I'd argue the largest future meetings ought to be in those offices should be one at a time. That would mean that counselors should meet only remotely. I think you lose something like this, but whatever you lose, it's better than risking lives.

I'm sure there are a whole lot of other issues. I'm just as sure that neither Trump, Cuomo, nor de Blasio will consider any of them before making their decisions. Doubtless they all have advisory boards that have no working teachers on them giving advice, and doubtless their various boards have no more common sense than they themselves. Common sense is a precious commodity, being the least common of all the senses.

They all seem to think there's plenty of time to figure out September. Well, there isn't. Any hybrid is bound to be imperfect. All that remains to be seen is how imperfect, and whether or not it veers into the catastrophic.
blog comments powered by Disqus