Some Kids Did Better with Remote Learning. What Now?
In this article in Education Week, Alyson Klein says that although many students struggled during remote and hybrid instruction, some thrived. For example, in an Arizona high school, three students on the autism spectrum “blossomed,” according to their teacher. Liberated from the difficulty of dealing with social distractions, they were able to focus on their work and excel academically. Teachers report that this was true for a number of students with learning and thinking differences, anxiety, and mental health conditions. In addition, some high-performing students enjoyed the autonomy made possible by remote instruction.
Now that most schools are once again in-person, how can all students be successful in an environment that wasn’t effective for many of them in the past? Klein reports that some schools are conducting surveys, asking students what worked and what didn’t during remote and hybrid instruction. Insights from these surveys can help improve in-person instruction. “You might find they really benefited from the freedom to use their time more flexibly or focus without interruption,” says Claire Schu at the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. Klein lists ideas from interviews with Schu and other educators:
- Explicitly teaching social skills: “Even the most extroverted kids may need help getting back into the swing of things socially after an extended period of relative isolation at home,” says Klein;
- Allowing some students to work alone during lunch and unstructured parts of the day rather than forcing them into unwanted social activities;
- Sticking to a consistent, predictable sequence of activities in each lesson;
- Not rushing instruction (despite the pressure to cover unfinished learning at a rapid pace) and having students periodically do meditative breathing;
- Providing more opportunities for one-on-one, personalized interactions;
- Using apps like Kahoot to “gamify” lessons, increasing student engagement and allowing teachers to make immediate corrections to errors and misconceptions;
- Encouraging students to go over material – for example, watching videos of teacher lectures several times;
- As much as possible, giving students choices on projects and the sequence in which they do their work – for example, deciding to do the “worst first” or waiting till the end of the day to tackle difficult assignments.
From “Virtual Learning Was Better for Some Kids. Here’s What Teachers Learned from Them” by Alyson Klein in Education Week, August 25, 2021 (Vol. 41, #2, p. 9)
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