Supporting Our Teachers in the New Learning Environment
Our beloved St. Patrick School teachers have been tasked to continue providing quality instruction and education despite the obstacles associated with the current pandemic. They have met this challenge head on for us and our students. When other districts have unspecific or optional work plans, the learning for our children has continued interrupted due to our teachers’ diligence and planning. In a time of uncertainty, our students have consistent learning and practice, as well as loving support and continued faith development. Our teachers embraced new technologies and are applying updated teaching and learning styles. What a wonderful, authentic way to model embracing change for our students!
How can we as parents best support our teachers’ efforts? We must understand our role in what is now a shared classroom. The teachers are providing instruction while we are hosting an environment for learning. Certainly, we are familiar with basic advice such as having a dedicated workspace, establishing a routine, etc. However, there are additional habits for successful learning in an online environment we can help instill in our students to support our teachers. Having worked in higher education online for many years, I offer several observations of behaviors from successful online students. Although my experience is mostly with college and adult learners, I believe many traits can be applied to our elementary and middle school students; the difference being our students (and teachers) need us, the parents, to help make this endeavor successful.
- Successful online students ask questions. Younger students will need help with this, as you need to intervene and let the teacher know if your child is not understanding or missed a concept. Older students can reach out via the comment feature or in a Zoom meeting to ask for clarification. Due to the limitations of the medium, teachers might have a hard time seeing who is not understanding a concept, which concepts, etc. As a parent you need to help your child ask questions.
- Successful online students effectively communicate. Again, younger students will need assistance. This is a great opportunity for our students to strengthen expressing their ideas in writing. We cannot assume a teacher knows what our child is thinking, feeling, or saying. Whereas teachers used to spend hours per day with our child, they no longer have access to body language, tone, and other cues. The goal is for students to be able to communicate with a school-appropriate online presence. Investing time to build these skills now will have long term benefits in a changing landscape.
- Successful online students complete the assigned readings (or watch the videos, etc.). This is key. Similar to how attending class in a brick and mortar school it vital, completing the reading and watching required videos is taking the place of teacher instruction and lecture. Students are shortchanging themselves if they skip this. Have a discussion about how this curriculum is not merely a checklist, but life-long learning. Our students are poised to begin next year ready to learn by putting in this work now.
- Successful online students take ownership of their learning. Often, class time can be passive. Online learning requires students to be actively engaged and responsible for their learning. Model this engagement and responsibility by keeping aware of the content your child is learning. A good resource for this is the Diocese Curriculum Guides for your child’s grade and subject.
- Successful online students stay current with administrative items. A few minutes per day need to be devoted to class housekeeping: check grade reports, check that you have submitted “mark as done”, check for any teacher comments from previous assignments, and use the checklist feature of the classroom. Use technology tools such as the Google Classroom app, subscribe to PowerSchool reports, and set up guardian summaries to make these tasks easier. When possible, model these processes with your child(ren).
Thank you to everyone for coming together to help our students be successful. Saint Patrick, pray for us.
“Not only are the attitudes of teachers crucial for the success of Catholic education but also the attitudes of Catholic parents. Parents must set themselves very definite priorities, such as the determination to have schools in which their children’s faith will be respected, fostered and enriched; schools in which their children learn the value and beauty of the Church’s teaching. They must also see to it that their own homes are places in which these values are first fostered and lived. Parents’ own practice of the faith, their own love for Christ, is of course fundamental.”
Melissa Miller, Ed.D.
St. Patrick Catholic School Parent