I’m a technology nerd, but when it comes to learning and school, I don’t want my kids anywhere near a computer any time soon. My daughters are in kindergarten and 2nd grade at the Davidson Green School, a Montessori + nature school where they spend most of their time working with their hands or playing outside. That’s the way it should be.
But these are not normal times.
With the Coronavirus upending routines across the United States, our governor shut all schools in North Carolina a week ago, and I am not sure if they will see their teachers again until next year.
With that backdrop, I found myself in a classroom with 10 elementary school teachers on Tuesday morning setting them up to do something none of them had ever done before: teach online.
They are all brilliant teachers with a passion for what they do, but no one would ever accuse them of being tech savvy. In that light, my goal was to keep things as simple as possible for them, so technology would enable them to interact with their students without trying to replace them (a mistake too many school districts have made).
One way to teach online…
My solution? I created free Zoom accounts for each teacher. Using each teacher’s unique Personal Meeting Room URL, I created a list of “classrooms” that I emailed out to the entire school. I adjusted settings so anyone could join. This way, teachers didn’t even need to log into their own accounts to teach their classes. It’s not a perfect solution, but in an hour, they were all up and running.
This is clearly a Band-Aid solution, but it casts technology as a supporting role rather than trying to replace teachers who still have the hardest part… adapting their curriculum to keep the attention of five year old’s via a computer screen.
Other organizations may have more complex needs or may use the current crisis to finally make the switch to a delayed long-term solution. I’m fine with that and happy to help.
In this same week, I have moved a two-week exercise for the Army entirely online and helped several certification bodies expand their online exam offerings for the millions of individuals who are suddenly concerned about polishing their resumes.
While this situation is clearly different, the only other time in my life that has felt like this was 9/11. The whole world has been upended, and no one has any idea what things will look like when we all settle into our new normal.
In times like these, society comes together to help those who need help, so please do not hesitate to contact me if I can help you in some way.