Parents: advocate for yourselves and advocate for your kids. In the midst of this very odd reality, as teachers struggle to keep the attention of their students, they will be more open to suggested alternatives. They understand you are struggling to keep kids in front of computers for hours upon hours. They understand the struggles and frustration of their students as well. And they are frustrated. This moment in time calls for flexibility and is an opportunity to find better ways to engage our students.
Teachers: advocate for yourselves and advocate for your students. As parents struggle to keep their children in front of computer screens and now must be part-time teachers, they will soon be begging for flexibility and more engaging activities for their kids. Send requests to your administrators and boldly make suggestions to your teams about offering more engaging alternatives and necessary flexibility to your students.
Sameness (requiring the same lessons and assignments of all students in your class) hasn’t served our students in the best of times. Sameness will be even less effective now. Instead of continuing ineffective methods, this odd time in history can be used to offer students opportunities to shine in new ways, discover their creative sides, and feel supported as the individuals they are.
Below is a step by step guide to advocating, followed by some examples of possible requests.
1: Decide it’s important to meet the needs of kids the very best we can right now.
2: Decide it’s important to request flexibility, whether you’re a parent, student, or teacher.
3: Present the idea to your child’s teacher or your administrator if you’re a teacher.
- Suggest that there is no downside to better engagement, student autonomy, individualization (that’s a buzzword in education that is pretty much only talk and not a reality),
- Suggest that there is no downside to allowing kids some flexibility during this crisis.
4: Make some specific suggestions. Reach out to us if you are stuck.
- If flexibility is not granted, ask why.
- If flexibility is not granted, then please use our tools, or create your own as supplements. Maybe kids will motor through assignments so that they can do a Grid item or work on a Project Packet.
- Instead of requiring a student complete 30 math problems, he/she could record a video teaching the algorithm and present to the class on Zoom. If a writing assignment is tough for a kid to complete, suggest that he make a picture book instead.
- A book report can be a commercial, a brochure, a skit, or a poem.
- Allow students to create a collage out of their math problems.
- Allow students to make grammar assignments silly.
- Allow one student to do 10 problems, while another does only 5 (individualize).
- Create a sculpture.
- Read backwards, make rhymes, lists, cut, paste, glitter, paint.
Creativity and autonomy become motivators in no time. Creative products catch on and other students begin to feel autonomous and inspired by others. It’s ok that it takes more time. More learning will ensue. Kids will enjoy school infinitely more, and their grown-ups will breathe sighs of relief.
Don’t be afraid to advocate. Be bold. Think outside of the box. Now is not the time for boxes.