Like It Or Not, Remote Learning Is Coming Back

Bryan O'Nolan

Bryan O'Nolan

Bryan O'Nolan is the world's foremost authority on Michael Pence. He is also the most highly paid investigative reporter at Ordinary Times. He lives in New Hampshire. He is available for effusive praise on Twitter. He can be contacted with thoughtfully couched criticism via email.

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22 Responses

  1. fillyjonk fillyjonk
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    says:

    Schools and universities need to declare NOW that after Christmas break, learning will be remote, to give parents, students, and ESPECIALLY teachers time to prepare. I don’t like this Schroedinger’s reality where I have to fundamentally prepare two parallel semesters: one sort-of in person, one entirely online.

    I want to quit. I think a lot of educators feel the same. We’ve been stretched to the limit and past it this fall, and it’s just been taken for granted that we can and will do these things.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to fillyjonk
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      says:

      Like I said in the other thread, maybe the worst thing that happened was people insisting that we just had to sit tight for a couple months and this would be over with; continually moving the date back to Whatever The Next Big Event Is and declaring that things would be Over With right before then.

      I mean, it’s not like “if you leave your house you’re gonna fuckin’ die, figure out how to deal with that” is an uplifting message that gets you re-elected…but every other message has turned out to be a lie.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to fillyjonk
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      says:

      What shocks me is the perpetual motion machine.

      My girlfriend’s school keeps imposing new rules and then new problems emerge based on those rules so new new rules are made and new new problems emerge. And the teachers are being asked to make it work.

      A real problem is we are looking to educational leaders with one skill set to be crisis managers, which required a different skill set.

      I’m lucky… my leader is new to the role and learning the educational leadership ropes but is naturally a good crisis manager. As such, we’ve avoided killing our teachers. We have other build in advantages but leadership has been the biggest.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Kazzy
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        says:

        One has to ask, how many of those aforementioned problems could be easily foreseen by anybody not making said rules?Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Oscar Gordon
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          says:

          Honestly, many. Not all. But many.

          And I get that sometimes you have to trade one problem for another.

          But did they not anticipate that opting for stricter quarantine rules would lead to more quarantining and upset parents?

          Like, literally, at 4PM they email to say both cohorts in all effected classrooms are quarantining.
          An hour later its just the effect cohort.
          A day later, everyone is welcome back.

          And not because anything with the situation changed in the interim. They somehow didn’t anticipate the pushback and weren’t prepared for it and caved to it.
          Now teachers are upset because admin promised they wouldn’t let upset parents dictate policy. Which was an obviously stupid promise to make.

          I don’t fault anyone for getting it wrong when dealing with the incomplete info that is life right now. But getting the easy and obvious things wrong? And then being shocked? And unprepared? That’s just bad leadership.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Kazzy
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            says:

            And all that is a chief driver in teachers burning out.

            Most teachers can adapt. It’s a necessary job skill.

            But no one can adapt to a new plan every day while being told, “This was always the plan.”Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Kazzy
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              says:

              I’m always amused, not by how quickly people burn out when leadership not only fails to apologize for mis-steps, but actively pretends such mis-steps never happened, but by how much leadership refuses to learn the lesson from this.

              Egos always Trump good leadership.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                Yes! This! Nothing erodes trust faster than a lack of accountability. Most people will be forgiving if you come hat in hand, acknowledge your error, share how you plan to address it, and show appreciation for those who are supporting that. You can only do this so many times before questions of competency emerge, but whoever wrote the leadership book that taught so many folks that admitting fault is to show weakness and weakness is to be avoided at all costs should be forced to sit on a pine cone.Report

              • Bryan O'Nolan Bryan O'Nolan in reply to Kazzy
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                says:

                Excellent discussion, many good points brought up. I described one of the three schools’ (which we deal with directly as a family) of having a “fire the arrow and paint the target around where it lands” approach to leadership.Report

            • fillyjonk fillyjonk in reply to Kazzy
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              says:

              Also being asked to do extra stuff – we do part of the contact tracing! without extra compensation or even comp time.

              I suspect we will see a wave of retirements among those who can retire (and haven’t already) and a wave of just….quitting….among people once they can go out and get a different job.

              Added to this: the pleasant parts of teaching have largely gone away. I have very few just casual conversations with students any more; office hours are mostly conducted over e-mail (despite me being available by Zoom and also in my office, masked, for people on campus. And the horrible parts – wrestling with technology that fails on the regular – are even more fraught when you are trying to have half your class dial in from a remote location and Zoom just decides it won’t transmit audio on a given day.

              I have never felt more alone in my life than I have in this. Not just personally but also at work.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to fillyjonk
                Ignored
                says:

                My boss has been great. The leadership has said — out loud — “You know that thing that is usually priority #1 and which we harp on every year? Yea, just do your best this year but don’t stress it!”

                My boss is newish to leadership. And she doesn’t always have the best ed leadership skills. I think she’ll get there but I was a little worried when she took over. But she’s naturally a good crisis manager so she’s succeeding where many more “seasoned” leaders are floundering.

                They keep dipping back into the same playback, ignoring that the game changed.Report

              • Avatar Philip H in reply to Kazzy
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                says:

                They keep dipping back into the same playback, ignoring that the game changed.

                This could be said about a great many things post-Covid.Report

      • Avatar James K in reply to Kazzy
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        says:

        That’s a pretty common cycle in policy making honesty.Report

  2. Avatar DensityDuck
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    says:

    But ultimately, it’s not the parents who will have to prepare; it’s the bosses who say “we understand that you have concerns but we’ve taken all the government-defined steps to ensure a healthy workplace and we just (makes ticking noise with tongue against teeth) really need the whole team in the office right now.” These bosses need to prepare for half their workforce telling him to eat a butt.Report

    • Avatar Philip H in reply to DensityDuck
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      says:

      In many business sectors this conversation can’t happen. Construction. Railroading. Banking. Hospitality. Retail. And all the businesses that support these businesses. Which was a big part of the problem last time we shut down and the richest nation in the world paid laid off folks $1200 and di that badly and late as well.

      We know there’s another wave coming up. We know people will have to stay home. We know hospitals need more PPE. And nationally we are fine with the federal government being forced to sit on its hands by a petulant soon-to-be ex-president and a scheming Senate. At the state level some governors are doing something. A few legislatures are supporting them across party aisles. But mostly its really every man woman and child for themselves.Report

  3. Avatar Kazzy
    Ignored
    says:

    Thankfully, my local area seems to have prioritized keeping schools open, which was not the case in spring or fall. This is supported by the general success school openings here have had, with minimal (and zero in most schools) school-based spread. NYC is bumping up against itself. The mayor agreed to a 3.0 city-wide test positivity rate as the threshold for shutting down. We’ve been in the 2.5-2.8 range and everyone is on edge. But the schools themselves show a positive rate below 1 (often well below… in the .1-.5 range) based on random testing of students and staff. And the statewide threshold is 9%.

    In NJ, schools that opened (not all did but staying closed required approval) must remain open unless ordered close due to outbreaks or governor orders. Our district (open 25%ish percent…. every other half day) has had about 15 cases among 6000+ students and no cases of school based spread.

    As a teacher, advanced notice of closure would be wonderful. But closing unnecessarily is disastrous.

    For me personally, remote schooling while everyone (Mom is in healthcare; Dad and stepmom are teachers in fulltime) worked full time was too hard on my kids. I’ll be taking Covid leave to focus on them.Report

    • Avatar Swami in reply to Kazzy
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      says:

      I just want to sincerely thank Kazzy and Bryan and all the other teachers and administrators for their efforts. Kudos!Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Swami
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        says:

        I have been fortunate in that my job hasn’t asked of me what the vast majority of schools have asked of their teachers. I appreciate the gratitude but there are many far more deserving of it than I.

        And, as I said, I am stepping away from work because my sons are needing more than can be offered through a cobbling together of in-person and remote programs. Duty calls and for me, that means the homefront for the time being. I’m very fortunate to have an incredibly understanding and supportive admin team, the COVID leave plan available to me, and savings in the bank I can lean on.

        I really feel for my colleagues in the world who are getting their asses kicked, often with little or no gratitude.Report

      • Bryan O'Nolan Bryan O'Nolan in reply to Swami
        Ignored
        says:

        It’s much appreciated. Part of my motivation for writing the piece was to get ahead (a little bit) on the backlash and help folks see why what is happening. I get the feeling folks outside of education may not realize that the pin has fallen out of the grenade.Report

  4. Avatar Jerry
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    says:

    Very balanced approach in this. No finger pointing or needless politicization of the the issues as evidenced in some of the prior comments. It’s been over a century since this type of illness struck. Second guessing is petty. O’Nolan’s piece lays out the facts. Now we need to deal with them.Report

  5. Avatar Kazzy
    Ignored
    says:

    And just like that, NYC is remote. They hit the pre-negotiated mark of 3% positivity rate city wide over a 7-day period. Nevermind rates in schools are considerably lower and the 3% number was arbitrary or that private schools remain open.Report

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