Distance learning is good

How is it as a teacher with distance learning?

How is the Distance learning in the corona crisis from the Teacher's perspective? What hurdles have to be overcome and how are the students doing without them daily exchange in the Classroom? How to as Primary school teacher deals with the exceptional situation, says Roland F. *

Recorded by Hanna Lauer
rawpixel.com / zvg

“I am 47 years old, teach a 4th primary class in the canton of Zurich and work 80 percent as a class teacher. When the Corona crisis got worse and the school closed overnight, I felt emotionally empty. I asked myself, can I give my students enough support in distance learning too? I quickly found out about online distance learning services. I came across schabi.ch (school on the screen), which I already knew. Schabi.ch offers me various options: I can provide my students with weekly plans, assign them tasks, and upload documents and videos. I unlock the tasks to be done for the class on a daily basis. The stumbling block is that not all students have a printer - so I sent them their assignments or individual PDFs to their home by post. I then receive the completed exercise sheets from the children's parents as a photo via Whatsapp.
Another problem is that some of the children have no access to computers or WiFi. Since our school is not that advanced digitally, there is no way we can borrow equipment. In the worst case, the students solve their tasks on their own mobile phones, which is suboptimal.

"There were general conditions from the primary school authorities, how much time the children have to invest in school every day"

Distance learning is generally well received by children and parents alike, it is clear to everyone what needs to be done. The exchange of information works well. Data protection is particularly a problem with video sessions and the recording of children, but a quick fix was needed in this emergency situation. I also talk to each and every one of the students on the phone every week, and often to their parents as well. The parents are very cooperative and grateful.

There were general conditions from the primary school authorities, how much time the children had to invest in school every day, and we were free to choose whether we should design the lessons analogue or digital. My fellow teachers also work with Microsoft Teams. I find this tool unsuitable for fourth graders.

"The inequality of opportunity is great"

Distance learning, however, also harbors fundamental risks, because the inequality of opportunity is great. There are children in my class who have good support at home, others get stuck. I am particularly concerned about these children. Of course, there are also students who basically do nothing. And others sometimes don't read the orders correctly and get stuck. It is a matter of attention and the individual child. If nothing works anymore, I intensify contact with the parents.

The performance gap was already present in regular lessons and now it is even wider. It is regrettable that I currently have no face-to-face teaching in my class. You can call me at any time if you have any questions, but actually the families are on their own. The workload of the pupils is very different: It is regulated that the children spend around two hours a day for school. Some are ready in 30 minutes, others take half a day. At the moment it is mostly repeated. But you would have to convey new learning content, because this semester is handled as a full school year despite Corona.

"Half of the school happens in the social and not in the cognitive."

But I also see an opportunity in this time and that is the digitization of schools. The learning platforms have to evolve, of course, but the school is going in a good digital direction. There are still security flaws, but it's amazing how well it works anyway. So the school can become paperless. There will be tools where parents' information or the homework schedule will only be available online.

Basically nothing will change in the face-to-face teaching, this is still the be-all and end-all of the primary level. But maybe certain tasks can simply be done online in the future. For us teachers, digitization will certainly require more work at the beginning, but I am motivated.
My hope for the time after Corona is that the children look forward to going back to school. That they appreciate being in a class, missed it, and that distance learning wasn't their favorite. Half of the school happens in the social and not in the cognitive. "

* The first and last name are known to the editors

Corona chaos or opportunity?

How do you deal with the current state of emergency at home? What is troubling you, what works quite well and what do you want for the time after Corona? We look forward to hearing from you and sharing your story with us: [email protected]

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