No one knows whether schools will open in person this fall or be online. It appears to change daily. Surprisingly there are still many districts across the US that are planning on in person schooling even if the pandemic is raging in their state. Perhaps they are fearful of Trump and his threats. No one knows.
We are seeing a nationwide trend in education. It is called Micro-Schooling. Many parents are taking education into their own hands and forming these Micro-Schools where they invite 4 or 5 of their child’s friends to learn together on a daily basis. It can be even 10 or 12 kids and not all at the same grade level.
Micro-schooling is the reinvention of the one-room school house, where class size is typically smaller than that in most schools (15 students or less in a classroom) and there are mixed-age level groupings. (Wikipedia)
When parents don’t want to send their kids back to school, this looks like a plausible solution. Some families are even hiring teachers who come for five hours per day and work with their kids. The location can be a garage or a family room of one of the participants.
According to an article from Business Insider, “Wealthy families have hired private educators to smooth over interruptions in their children's education for years.”
As we know, parents in low income areas don’t have the same resources to do micro-schooling. Is this the end of equity in education? We all need to be concerned.
Compounding parent fears are the fears of teachers. Teachers do not want to go back. Teachers say crucial questions about how schools will stay clean, keep students physically distanced and prevent further spread of the virus have not been answered according to an article in the NY Times.
Many of these unhappy teachers are accepting jobs with wealthy families or even with middle class families who have joined together. Their per hour charges are now $60-100.
No one wants to repeat the spring semester of disastrous zoom teaching synchronous or asynchronous. Kids do not want to be on zoom, especially elementary school kids. They don’t learn by people telling them what to do. The problem has to do with the teaching format. It didn’t work well in school when the kids were under the direction of the teacher and it is a total disaster on Zoom.
So what should a parent do?
It looks like small children up to 12 years don’t get or transmit the virus but kids over 12 do. One suggestion is to have in person classes every day for small kids and online classes for kids above 12. I would suggest you check with your local school to see their fall plans. If there are no in person classes, perhaps you can set up a micro-school for your elementary age kids.
For middle and high school-aged students taking online classes, my suggestions are based on my 40 years in the classroom. It aligns with what the Stanford Online High School has been doing since 2006:
- No long lectures. No one, no matter what age, likes long lectures
- Put kids in charge of 50% of the Zoom calls on a rotating basis. It gives them leadership skills and helps them organize their peers
- Make sure every session includes small breakouts for the majority of the time
- Encourage kids to text each other and set up times to socialize
- Remember that the main thing kids are missing is THEIR FRIENDS.
- Give kids an opportunity to help design the curriculum for the class.
Also keep in mind my pedagogy from my book How to Raise Successful People. It is called T.R.I.C.K. trust, respect, independence, collaboration, and kindness. Trust and respect your kids and their desire to learn, give them independence, collaborate with them instead of dictating and model kindness for them. It works wonders.