Since the schools began shutting down in March and shifting to an on-line format, there has been much discussion and debate regarding how to effectively teach students remotely.
School administrators and teachers had several large hurdles to overcome, including the abruptness of the change, technology challenges, and a huge disparity of support / learning environments within the student homes. As a result of those factors, and in spite of the best efforts of teachers and parents alike, most would agree that student learning was significantly hampered for the last three months of the school year when compared to in-classroom learning. Most educators would agree that in-person teaching and learning is the most effective as it utilizes the dynamics of personal relationships and human emotion to develop a student’s true potential. Let us hope and pray that our leaders allow us to return to this style of education when school begins again in the fall.
If we acknowledge that our students did not gain as much ‘book learning’ this quarter as they should have, we also need to acknowledge that they learned many ‘real world’ lessons that will serve them well.
The first and most important lesson that our students learned is that life is about relationships and being present to one another. No matter how far technology advances or how simple and easy a Zoom meeting becomes, nothing substitutes for a hand on the shoulder from a teacher, or a pat on the back from a coach, or a poke in the ribs from a friend, or a grandma’s hugs. People are the most important. We are at our best when our lives are spent with others and for others.
Students may have also learned that school isn’t so bad after all. During our remote tutoring sessions here at Life Tools Tutoring, many of our students are sharing with us that they miss their traditional school day; they miss their friends, they miss the structure of the day, they miss the sense of purpose that the school day provides, and they miss the creative teaching techniques that in-person teaching allows. Academics can become very one-dimensional when all of the learning is done on-line, and a bored student sometimes loses interest.
Life can be hard sometimes, and we are not always in control of what happens next. For most adults, this message has been learned through many hardships, challenges, and disappointments. We understand that we are not always in control and that sometimes bad things happen to good people and there is no explaining it.
With parents’ assistance, our young people can learn that even though challenges and difficulties in life will arise, they need to put on courage and continue to move forward.
They may not be able to control every aspect of their lives, but they can control how they react to those events and the attitude they bring to those around them.
And remind your student that they are blessed to live in the United States of America with all of the freedom and responsibilities that come with that privilege. Let them know that most people throughout all of human history, including most of the current population of the planet had/have no freedom except those bestowed on them by tyrants or oppressive governments. Our ability to move about as we wish and to make our own choices without the fear of imprisonment or death is very unique in the context of human history. Sometimes freedom can be best taught when some of those freedoms are taken from us for a time.
Although most young people are high-energy and are usually looking for their next adventure, perhaps our kids now realize that we do not have to be chasing from one activity to another 24 / 7 in order to live a happy, fulfilled life. Quiet time is ok. Dinner with the family on a regular basis creates bonds that will last a lifetime. The simple things in life are often the best, and they can be missed if we are moving too fast.