What are teachers’ priorities during the Covid-19 global pandemic that has forced almost the entire world to close educational institutions and move to emergency remote/online teaching?
I come to this question from the perspective of someone who has been working in the field of online and blended learning for over 18 years now, one who has supported my institution, the American University in Cairo, in its efforts to move teaching online during the crisis (see http://www.aucegypt.edu/online-instruction), and one who is watching her 8-year old learn online for the first time.
Teachers need digital literacies, not just digital skills. It’s not about learning all the tools, but about being mindful of how to use which tool for the right purpose at the right time, and knowing when NOT to use the more complicated technology and instead just sending an email or making a phone call.
I want to suggest that we need to go beyond focusing on how to achieve our learning outcomes with technology and modify our assessments for an online environment. Maybe we should focus on less tangible values that are way more important.
5 Things We Can All Do…
As teachers, we need to care about our students’ well-being: some will be directly affected by illness, or have loved ones affected by it. Some will be economically harmed in the short or long term. Some will have additional family responsibilities. Almost all are affected by the physical isolation measures and lack of human contact. Many are stressed by the news and the threat of the virus.
Teachers are also probably facing additional home responsibilities and need to care for themselves in order to care for others. We are also probably not functioning at our best because of the cognitive load of this crisis/trauma. While I seem pretty functional most days (at work, at home), I am not always OK inside. Some of the most heartwarming experiences I have had during this crisis have been faculty members calling to check on me after three weeks of intensive support I’d been giving them; and my students forgave me for being late in grading them, when I told them I’d gotten overwhelmed and just could not do it. They were reciprocating my own understanding of their various circumstances. I was grateful.