Opinion: Distance learning offers opportunities during coronavirus

The current COVID-19 crisis has forced our schools to adapt in ways that, up until a few weeks ago, I could not have imagined. The Stamford Public Schools have demonstrated agility and creativity to meet the needs of its students and families. Distance learning brings with it many new challenges but also opportunities. As we look ahead to life after the crisis, I hope that Stamford Public Schools learn from this experience and apply the learnings to strengthen our education system for the future.

To that end, I’m sharing a few observations and thoughts for consideration:

Students need access to technology

All SPS students should be provided with Chromebooks/laptops. Responsibility for the care and use of the devices should be taught from Kindergarten onward. Distance learning only works if kids have access to technology. As a district, we’ve now demonstrated that we can meet this need.

Professional development should incorporate:

Technology skills including new ways to deliver lessons

Remote presentation/class management

Student independent study skills

Beginning in the earliest years, students need to develop skills to:

Use the technology that makes distance learning possible

Self-regulate their study and manage their time

Families need new skills, too:

Technology workshops should be provided for parents and caregivers so that SPS parents have an opportunity to learn how to use the tools that their children use

Guidelines for creating learning spaces at home should be created and distributed

Distance learning has the potential to work well for many kids. The opportunity to access a broader range of classes, pace oneself based on what the individual finds easy/challenging and flex-time/place based on what is most compatible with one’s learning needs make the opportunity for distance learning exciting!

Could distance learning….

Be used to deliver a magnet program? This could alleviate pressure on our buildings.

Be used to develop flexible schedules whereby some students are home some days and in our physical schools on other days?

Become a default in place of snow/inclement weather days?

There is still much to learn that will get our district through the current COVID-19 crisis. I’m confident that our administration, teachers, and staff will continue to demonstrate ingenuity to benefit our community. Longer-term I hope that these new experiences lead to new approaches and benefits once normalcy returns.

View Original Article