I don’t think any educator is surprised at the inequities highlighted through distance learning. The distance learning environment didn’t cause the inequities; the inequities have always been there. Some were “masked” while others were clearly noticeable. In face to face school, the absence of updated resources, technology limitations, and physical plant facilities are the first things one might notice. Too often, those insufficiencies give permission for lower expectations. After all, how can students be expected to achieve high levels of academic success if they don’t have the educational communities to support them? Those imbalances were ignored for the most part; schools “made do” with less so they were expected to “do less.”
But now, with the current environment of either a hybrid schedule or a full remote schedule, student inequities have exploded.
In a recent (August 21, 2020) Learning Forward blog, Melinda George reports that according to a Common Sense Media study, 30% of all public K-12 students have inadequate access to the internet. This is called the “homework gap” affecting more families of color and low-income households. No surprise there… if students do not have access to computers, the internet, or someone at home to help them navigate their remote work, where does that leave them? Far behind! If work must be completed using the technology at home and students don’t have that access, how are they expected to grow like the students who do not have these challenges? They are not expected to grow.
So, what happens? Students are given computers with the hope that they can catch up with their more affluent student counterparts. Unfortunately, this is not by osmosis… instructional coaches are even more necessary than before so they can help the teachers plan lessons, collaborate with their colleagues, and engage in ongoing professional learning so that they raise the bar for every student and every teacher. And, probably the most valuable learning experience is the opportunity to meet regularly with colleagues to talk about effective instructional practices. Be a team! Above all, don’t let the common planning time disappear from the day… take the practices that worked so well face to face and amend them to work in a remote environment.
What’s your plan to meet virtually with your colleagues?