Education Tips During Covid

Education Tips During Covid

I’ve noticed my clients talking about their children and online remote learning all the time. “What are we going to do,” they ask.  Because they’re concerned about the education of their children or their grandchildren, I sat down with Nancy Hedstrom, long-time educator and elementary school principal, to discuss the situation many parents find themselves in. How can our children get an education in the midst of a pandemic? You can watch the video or read the transcript below.

Joe:

Now we’re recording. Yes, we’re on. Okay. Hello, I’m Joe Patton. I am a personal injury lawyer here in Topeka. And I’m here today with Nancy Hedstrom.

Nancy:

Hello. It’s nice to be with you tonight.

Joe:

The reason I, invited Nancy to join us here is because of her background. She’s got what? Eight years teaching? 27 years as an elementary school principal. And I just found out, right now you’re helping your granddaughter with some of the online learning.

Nancy:

I’m her remote learning facilitator now.

Joe:

Well, I want to focus in on that a little bit. I have my clients talking about their children and online remote learning all the time. What are we going to do? Because they’re concerned about the education of their children or their grandchildren. I just read a, an article in CJ online. I’d encourage folks to take a look at it. October 2nd is still online. It’s an interview with the state education commissioner, Randy Watson, a well respected guy and he was talking to the Kansas Association of School Boards and basically said, you know, we’re trying to do in person learning hybrid learning and online learning. Those are the models. And he said, “Neither of the learning models are sustainable”. What we’re doing, he just said is not sustainable. And he’s talking about lack of facilities, lack of staff, like a financial resources. So I’m not going to ask you to solve all those problems, but in light of the fact that, we’re in COVID and we’ve got this strange situation going on with schools and learning. Let me ask you a couple of questions. What kinds of difficulties is the teacher going to have trying to do online learning in this kind of environment? Give us some background. What is it parents should really understand?

Nancy:

Okay, well, COVID has brought a new use of technology. Like we’ve never used it before, in education and, and teachers use technology in their classrooms every day, but to do it, in a remote online learning situation for teachers who are classroom teachers, it’s a whole new ball game. Teachers can continue to make lesson plans. They know curriculum, they know how to teach, but technology being the method of delivery for remote learning is a whole new ball game.

Nancy:

The technology doesn’t always work internet. It’s sometimes spotty for the teacher and spotty for the student. I watched a classroom where that teacher was engaging with the students and all of a sudden she froze. She got kicked off of their of their meeting, and the students sat there for five minutes, very patiently waiting for her to come back on. And finally they said, we might as well leave the meeting because she didn’t come back. She couldn’t get back on. So, you know, those kinds of things are very frustrating for both the teacher and the student and the parents who are, you know, so wanting their children to have a good experience and learning whether it’s remote or, or in the classroom. So, I think a big challenge and teachers are having to learn this meeting software. And not all of the students, even having access to the hardware of a computer or a Chromebook or whatever, that’s a challenge for school districts because not everybody can afford that.

Joe:

So there’s problems getting the technology to work, figure it out, even getting it available for all the kids.

Nancy:

When they do have children in school, even the social distancing, you know, the cleanliness, the masks, all of the handwashing, that’s a challenge for teachers, but especially for teachers of the younger children, the preschool, the kindergarten, the first grade, because that’s a lot of times when they need really close teacher instruction and support to help them start to learn some of those skills.

Joe:

So I’ve always thought that the biggest problem with education is it’s just boring. And I’m thinking that just watching a teacher lecture in a zoom classroom has to be boring times 100. Is that correct?

Nancy:

I’ve seen some really creative things going on. Teachers have allowed students to work in groups on zoom. You can put them into different rooms and so they can work together. I just read an article about how teachers have a crazy hat day and, and they do a variety of things. If the teacher wants to he or she could probably get pretty creative and do a lot of fun things.

Joe:

Alright. So let’s assume that you’re talking to a parent and their child is trying to do the online learning, using zoom or some other technology and is struggling. Maybe not wanting to even watch sometimes is signing off, ornot sending in the homework. Give us a couple of tips. What would you say to parents? I mean, particularly you’re helping your granddaughter do this, you know, so give us some insight and some tips, what are the main nuggets that a parent should be involved in and making this work?

Nancy:

Okay. Well, first of all, I have to tell you that online learning isn’t for every child and some children will adapt to it. Some children really struggle and to be accountable for when you’re doing online learning for some children, that’s not a priority. So parents have to do things to encourage them and support them. One thing I think is really important is to have a daily schedule, probably for the online learning.  Other than just teacher time there’s a whole day of learning for those students, even if they’re online. And so they need to have a schedule for that. A schedule that gives them, work time, gives them some break times. I know with our granddaughter, every day we have a break an dsome of the times it’s to go out and play four square on the driveway.

Sometimes it’s to take a quick trip to our favorite Starbucks. Sometimes it’s a quick trip to go see our cousins for maybe five or 10 minutes and come back. But we have to, to schedule work times, but we also need to schedule some break times in there. Something that the child can look forward to during the day. Sometimes I have availability of being home full time because I’m retired, but there are parents who have to work at home and do everything. And what do they do? Well, I one suggestion that I might have would be, they have a daily checklist as their child that goes through that daily checklist of things that they need to do for their online learning. They can check them off. So the parent can see how they’re doing and the child can see that they have some set, can have some satisfaction of finishing a task.

Nancy:

I also think that you need to have a good learning space. We started out at the kitchen table when all this COVID hit way back in March. Even though I’m retired, that’s kind of a busy place sometimes. So I found another place in the house with a little desk or table and a little lamp and created a learning space that was a little bit more private and quiet. I think it’s important for children who can manage it to give them some autonomy in their learning. So you’re not always looking over their shoulder with younger children, you might need to dol more, but I had an agreement with my granddaughter that I would check in with her regularly and make sure she’s doing okay, but I wouldn’t always be there looking over her shoulder. I love learning and I love kids learning.

Nancy:

So it’s harder for me to stay away than it is hard for me to, but, but a good workspace where she has what she needs is very important too. And I also think, the last thing I’ll say is to set clear expectations with your child or what you want them to do during that school day at home and just be upfront and talk about that because what you want them to do, won’t be communicated to them unless it comes out of your mouth and you, and you let them know in a kind way. And I, I have heard parents talk about their children being kind of emotional and distressed about not being with their friends at school and their teachers. And I know how excited they are that they’re getting to go back little by little, but I, you know, just talking with them about those feelings, I think is very important and being calm, being home and with your children day in and day out, and then being responsible for helping them with their learning can be a challenge, especially for parents who have other things to do during the day and, and staying calm, I think is very important too.

Joe:

We’re talking about parents are going to have to be, or grandparents are going to have to be much more involved with the child for this to be even halfway successful. Yeah, I agree. I agree. Okay. All right. One last request for you. Our newsletter firm newsletter always has a recipe and I know what a wonderful cook you are. So ask you to send us a recipe so we can share with our clients. Will you do that for me?

Nancy: Oh, sure. Okay.

Joe: Thank you so much.

Nancy: Oh, my pleasure. Bye. Bye. Bye.

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