As K-12 schools make plans to inevitably move their classes online in the coming weeks, below are some things admin, parents, and teachers should consider:
What to teach?
School admin should cut approximately a third of its classes, minimize another third, and keep a strong pace with the most important third. The first third should be those courses which can either be combined with another or altogether cut. The second third should slow its pace and expect to do less, while still offering development and maturity in those courses. The final third should be courses, like reading and mathematics, that must stay strong and sharp.
How to teach it?
- A reliable and simple online platform should be utilized (Google Hangouts, Zoom, Teachable, FreeConferenceCall, etc.) to provide online classes.
- Classes should be staggered to account for limited home computers. If siblings all have classes at the same time, the family will likely not have enough computers for each student.
- Video lectures will come in very handy at this time. This is also another way of avoiding scheduling conflict. Teachers should upload lectures as often as possible, for students to watch as they are able, or watch multiple times, or watch with parents so parents can learn how to help their student.
- Students will need to be provided further instruction and tips on how to become independent learners: reading a passage or chapter twice, learning how to ask good questions of the text, choosing a wise and good place to study or watch lectures in the house, researching further aid, etc.
- Teachers will need to improve in their ability to provide strong, clear, and efficient academic lectures, according to their subject and their students’ frames. I will be providing some helpful “lessons on lectures” in the coming weeks, giving examples and principles in how to provide good lectures and avoid bad lectures.
- Teachers can set up small discussion groups, or have students work together via phone or small online groups, to complete assignments, continue to build peer relationships, and work independently from the instructor.
- Teachers can pair students together, in a kind of "Academic Ally" partnership, to hold one another accountable during this peculiar time, to ensure pace is kept as well as greater understanding pursued in each course.
- Utilize online platforms which already have material uploaded: Youtube is the most apparent one.
- Classical Christian schools should do all they can to keep their classical Christian distinctions during this time.
- Teachers should schedule a meeting once a week or once every two weeks with parents, or upload additional lectures just for parents, to assist further in the execution of the curriculum at home.
What should parents do?
- Parents will need to be most involved in creating a healthy and steady home environment and schedule. Regarding academic success, this will be the most important role of parents in the coming months. Families will be “stuck together” at home, and so there will need to be a healthy variation of activity, structure, leisure, and social stimulation. Parents should keep a clear and consistent family schedule so classes are not missed.
- Parents will need to be more closely involved in the execution and understanding of the material, ensuring the student is reaching out to the instructor as needed and the parent is offering some further instruction at home as needed.
- Parents should plan healthy amounts of outside time, where children can play in the backyard, perhaps isolated and within their own family.
- Parents should plan game nights, popcorn nights, and creative ways to continue to foster family bonds, friendship, and virtue in the home.
- Parents should sing with and pray with their children, taking this opportunity to mature the whole family in disciplines perhaps they have neglected.
How much more creative can we get?
The next few months will provide wonderful opportunities to be educational entrepreneurs once more, to have our assumptions about education questioned, and to see how much we can do with less than we thought. This means there will be some creative ideas come forth on how best to form and education students within these constraints.
The Classical College will be starting up anew its classical read-along so that Sequitur’s families and students can join together in a communal activity of hearing great literature read aloud, something we cannot do enough of. This will be open to all families and students around the United States. This will provide the parents a break and also be a leisurely learning activity to continue a student’s academic development. It is also a free and enjoyable way to participate in the wider network of classical education. We will likely divide this by age groups.
Similarly, The Classical College and Sequitur are equipped to provide homeschool families with coaching, curriculum, and resources. For more information, email us at BDaigle@ClassicalCollege.com
What else are we missing?
As a final note, it is clear that students will be on computers a lot during this season of their education. Both schools and parents should boost their parental controls and limit computer time severely, outside of academic work. Schools and parents should buttress their policy on online ethics and behavior to ensure students are protected from all the many things that may grab their attention while online. If necessary, families should create a single and public space in the house where students can use the computer in front of parents but still have the quiet they need to learn.
As I have more to provide here, either from my own experience or hearing from others, I’ll add more.