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Remote Learning: Taking a Step Back From Technology

All across the country, parents and caregivers are taking on the gargantuan role of homeschool teacher. Likewise, teachers are adapting at record speed as they evolve into remote educators. In many respects, what makes this new dynamic possible is technology. It allows us to share and access lesson plans and to connect with one another in virtual spaces.

But how many of us have stopped to think that this same technology that makes it possible for so many also makes it impossible for so many others. In our country alone, there are 3 million students home right now without internet. They simply cannot access their digital lessons and they cannot connect with their classmates or teachers virtually.

But they can still learn. The trick is that just as we leverage technological resources for learning, we must not forget about the traditional methods. We need to find creative ways to inject other types of learning into the day and not rely solely on our devices.

This message is not just for those without internet. It applies to us all.

We have internet at home and I am grateful for it.  Watching my son connect with classmates, celebrate birthdays virtually, chat with his teacher and access a plethora of learning apps has been comforting. But there is a nagging voice that doesn’t let up. It reminds me that the school issued iPad we were so fortunate to receive is not the be-all and end-all. There is more to learning but we first must look up.

I oversee our LifeChanger of the Year educator recognition program, so I’m lucky enough to be in touch with bright, innovative teachers every day. I’m also a parent of two, and I’ve struggled to become a teacher to my son even as I juggle caring for his toddler-age sister. So I’ve thought a lot about this.

Here is a challenge to those who are struggling to fit in all of the online lesson plans, educational videos, Google Hangouts, digital zoo tours and celebrity readings into the day. Let it go. At least some of it. Go outside and play in the dirt. Cuddle on the couch with a good book to share. Journal using paper. Make a family recipe. Have a conversation about how the world feels different.

Our community of educators, being the LifeChangers they are, have pulled together some ideas for getting back to basics while staying relevant to this moment.

Arlinda Davis, a 2019-2020 nominee for the LifeChanger of the Year program shares an exercise we can all access and benefit from. She suggests making a time capsule. Think about it; we’re experiencing history now. Let’s work to find ways that allow children to be active in the moment.

Arlinda shares that “the time capsule activity is a reflective and building one. The most important part is the note they write their future self and the note from a parent, drawings and writings about feelings.”

To get started, kids can use any type of container like a shoe box or even a Pringles can. What is important is that children fill these time capsules with what they think is important right now. News articles, pictures, notes and journal entries, photos all matter. Ask the child to write a note to their future self that they can read in one year. As their caregiver do the same.

Feel the creative juices flowing, yet? In my home town, I am regularly encouraged and inspired by the uplifting signs that families and business owners have painted around town. A drive down main street and you’ll see countless signs signaling the vitality of our community. This has inspired me to spend an afternoon creating signs with my son. It’s art, it’s community, it’s connection.

Here are a couple additional ideas from our LifeChangers.

This post is not to discourage you from using the wonderful technological resources we may be so fortunate to have. In no other time have we had so many options and access for online learning at our fingertips. But don’t forget that learning happens in a variety of ways.