Seriously, Let’s Change the Stigma

by Anita Young, Virtual Learning Specialist

As a Virtual Teacher with over fifteen years of classroom experience, five in the virtual setting, I am really struggling with the current stigma of virtual teaching.  A few weeks ago I was planning a professional learning experience on engagement in live sessions.  You can call me a nerd, but I was excited.  Bringing engagement and fun learning opportunities to students excites me.  In the midst of my planning, I got on our World of Learning Institute social media account to check on something and saw this.

I would typically say I have a thick skin, but this ruined my day. Why is this the perception of virtual learning? And why is the image liked by millions of people? I am not going to lie; it hurt and I am not even the teacher on the other side of that screen. 

As a parent of a child who has attended remote Zoom classes due to the pandemic, I kind of get it (yeah, kind of).  I know that my child’s attention span isn’t great. It takes almost half a bag of gummy bears per Zoom session to get her to stay attentive and engaged.  I also know that every media outlet is looking for a story, and what better story than the one most families are relating to when it comes to school. It is hard for some kids. I totally understand.  It is not “ normal” and it is outside of their comfort zone, but why aren’t we sharing more pictures like these?

Why does it have to be a picture of the child slumped over appearing to be bored out of his mind? Why can’t the image and picture be of a child happy and engaged in a live session?  Teachers are working hard. They deserve THIS recognition! 

As I said, I have been a virtual teacher for a few years and it took me those years of practice to get better at what I do, especially to arrive at a comfort level where I can share with colleagues ideas on engagement. I also had this choice to make this transition.  Teachers today weren’t given a choice and they certainly didn’t have years to prepare and get better.  So let’s change the stigma, friends! 

Virtual learning may not be the best for all students. We know that. But let’s make the best of our situations by providing our learners with great virtual learning experiences and spreading positivity.  

Here are some quick tips & resources to help, depending on your role.

Administrators: 
  • Help your teachers get the resources that they need.  Be mindful of the professional learning they need. Ask for their input.
  • Allow your teachers some extra time to plan during the school day hours.  
  • Be supportive and understanding of their situations. Give them praise for working hard and continuing to learn.
Teachers: 
  • Seek your own professional learning opportunities if they are not being provided for you.
  • Find a Professional Learning Community (PLC) that meets your needs. Communities in social media are growing by the second!
  • Learn more about Virtual Engagement from your experienced online teachers at the World of Learning Institute on their YouTube page
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel.Use the activities you have used in the classroom that kept students engaged and just tweak them for your new virtual classroom. Here are some quick ideas too. 
  • Don’t forget to consider the attention span of your students.  Here is a quick idea list for increasing the student attention span. 
  • Don’t panic. Everyone knows you have the best intentions for your students always at heart.
Parents:
  • Thank a teacher, privately or publicly!!
  • Be patient and understanding as they are managing the new norms professionally and personally too.   
  • Don’t use social media to vent your frustrations. Talk to the teacher. (Yup, I am talking to you, my dearest cousins!)
  • Don’t share the negative pictures. It hurts people’s feelings and most importantly sends the wrong message. Imagine your boss seeing a picture of you doodling, texting, or nodding off during a meeting.  Wouldn’t go over real well, huh?
  • Be easy on yourself. You are probably doing a lot managing school schedules, your own work, household chores, etc. Keep the communication open with teachers and let them know when things get a little hectic or you may need some forgiveness.   
All in all, we are all in this together. 

Virtual learning, remote learning, live sessions, whatever you want to call it, doesn’t have to be a negative experience.  A lot of great learning opportunities can be offered to students, I promise! Live sessions in Zoom or other virtual meeting platforms can be engaging, can be interactive, can offer opportunities to communicate and connect. It takes time, patience, and positivity to change the negative stigma. It also takes a village.  We are part of your village at the World of Learning Institute, so please contact us if you need any help with world languages or engagement in live sessions. We are happy to help! 

Want to chat with Anita? email her at ayoung@iu08.org

2 Comments. Leave new

  • Dr. Christina Huhn
    November 6, 2020 11:29 pm

    I came across this post while following up on a video about one of our graduates (IUP). What a wonderful post! Online learning had great potential if approached well. Kudos!

    Reply

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