That is the question that I am pondering at the moment after nearly two weeks of remote learning with my four children as a result of COVID19. Like all parents and teachers in this situation, it has not been easy. Furthermore, the likelihood of this continuing into term 2 is quite daunting. I think everyone is trying to do the best for our children and I want to thank not only the teachers of my children, but all teachers for what they have accomplished so far during this crisis.
I must admit I do feel like a substitute teacher at the moment. Each morning I check the inbox tray for the work that has been set by my children’s teachers. The morning session is often a mad scramble of trying to interpret the set work, answer clarifying questions and try build some type of independence, so that I can complete my work (Often impossible with a Kindy and Year 1 student in the mix). The rest of the day reminds me of cramming to complete a University assignment. It’s a crazy rush to ensure everything is completed before 3pm and to provide their teachers with the opportunity to give the kids feedback (Which they love!).
Here is a more detailed example of my day:
But wait there is more…… Mathletics, Studdyladder, Read Theory, constructing an Easter Hat for our virtual parade next week. In addition, running the canteen and yard supervision during trampoline time and that does not include a number of Zoom meetings and other work that I completed during the day. The challenge for me is that I am a trained teacher and this is tough work, especially balancing educational supervision and my core work.
In a recent news article, NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell helped relieve some stress and anxiety from parents when she commented “that a few hours worth of maths and literacy was sufficient for remote learning and parents should not beat themselves up over getting everything completed”. An interesting comment when prior to COVID19 everything in the media about education was laser focused on schools not meeting educational benchmarks within PISA assessments and constant declines in NAPLAN testing results. It is liberating to know that these types of assessments are no longer important to governments, which is great news!
In light of this, I am curious about a few things:
- What effect will this situation have on my children’s learning progress?
- If my role is to supervise the educational program of my children, what will be the magnitude of the impact that I will/can have on their learning outcomes?
- What if this situation creates a greater impact on learning? Do we go back to the same way, when the situation is resolved?
To align my thinking and possibly answer some of my own questions. I thought that the research conducted by John Hattie would be a good benchmark. Given his research the effect of this situation should be somewhere between 0.15 and 0.40 as shown in his famous diagram highlighting the Barometer of Influence.
However, this situation has number of key factors that must me consider. Within his recent analysis of Influences And Effect Sizes Related To Student Achievement. I can infer that my high parental involvement (0.50) and the reduced class size (0.21) experienced by my children, will have a positive impact their academic progress this year. What is concerning, is that distance education (0.13) and technology in distance education (0.01) have a very low effect on student achievement. Yet, this does not mean that they are not beneficial tools or strategies, but for any impact on student achievement it is more about the changes that we make to our teaching in this changed environment. Just creating a google classroom or setting up a zoom will not yield significant learning growth for our students, it is how we incorporate high impact learning strategies within these tools and situations that make significant differences.
I do agree with Pashi Sahlberg that we cannot expect from ourselves or one another the same things as a normal situation (It is not the same environment that our children experienced 3 weeks ago). The responsibility of teaching our children remains with the school. But maybe there is the opportunity for parents to be more than an educational supervisor. Maybe it is about how we provide honest feedback to what our children can and can’t complete (It is not about doing the work for them). This situation requires a triad of collaboration between teachers, parents and students and communication is the key enabler. If we can foster this mutually beneficial relationship, then we will have a significant impact on moving the dial for student learning during this unprecedented time.