Thursday, May 7, 2020

Are we failing our students?

By Cheryl Oreglia

Today I spent several hours on zoom calls with school administrators and students who are struggling to get their work done under quarantine. These are students who struggled before the outbreak and now they are in way over their heads.

They have floated so far out of range the lifeguards on duty can not reach them.

The students are feeling overwhelmed, almost as if they are drowning, and it seems like the adults are standing on the edge of reason, ignoring their calls for help.

It’s heartbreaking.

I’m exhausted trying to come up with viable solutions that help students remotely learn the essential concepts without destroying their ability to stay afloat. The expectations are so high, the consequences for failing not equal the circumstance (as in the punishment does not fit the crime), and no one is winning here.

None of us know how to do this, let alone do this well, and it’s the students who are suffering the most.

My fear is that this is just the beginning of a new learning environment where it becomes impossible to learn. We have to figure out how to up our game, engage our students, and get away from dry presentations, homework, and grades that lack student buy-in and engagement. That is not where the future of learning is going and if we don’t figure it out we risk leaving the majority of our students behind.

I stand at my hastily constructed desk in the master bedroom, looking out the window, feeling tortured by the future.

This is when a fisty wind kicks up mimicking my frustration and anger, it takes up a dozen or so leaves from the magnolia tree, swirling them several feet above the lawn, as if in a sacred dance. I stand there mesmerized by the waltz-like movements. 

Suddenly the wind dies down, the leaves fall to the ground, leaving a henna like pattern on the lawn. It reminds me of my students, each dropping out of the academic dance, lifeless, fallen if you will.

I’m going to sulk for a while.

Treading in deep water.

What is the view from your window? 

1 comment:

Kimberly G. Giarratano said...

I'm teaching GED prep classes and the move to online has alienated a lot of my students who either don't have reliable WiFi or computers, etc. I've lost 90% of my roster. School was already tough for them and now it's impossible. I feel you. I truly do.

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