Remote Learning Day Feedback

Remote Learning Day Feedback
Posted on 02/25/2019
Student and helper learning from home!

A few weeks ago Avoca and 5 other New Trier Township school districts conducted remote learning days (RLD) as the outside temperatures and wind chills created unsafe travel conditions for both students and staff. Fortunately the extremely cold temperatures had been forecast several days in advance, and Avoca staff began preparation on Monday afternoon for implementation on the following Wednesday. I was impressed by how professional, optimistic and motivated the teaching staff was to make these days beneficial learning experiences for all students. They should be commended for their flexibility, creativity and effort! I also greatly appreciate how receptive the Avoca parents and students were to giving this innovative and unorthodox learning experience a try!

At the end of the 2nd RLD, approximately 30% of Avoca parents participated in an online survey. Overall, the two days were positive learning events that were well received. However, that was not a universal sentiment, as there were a significant number who found the days to be challenging.

In considering the amount of work provided, 70% felt there was the right amount of English/Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies, while 74% felt there was the right amount of Art, Foreign Language, Music, P.E., etcetera. The data showed that when we erred, it was on the side of assigning too much work, as opposed to not enough.

It was important to us that the work be an extension of what the children would have typically done and not just “busy work” to keep them occupied. Slightly over 95% of respondents felt the activities aligned with the learning their children were currently receiving at school. 68% of respondents felt the rigor was just right, while another 20% felt it was hard/too hard.  83% felt their child understood what was expected of them.

Our intention had been for the children to be able to complete most of the work independently; however, 55% of respondents felt their children needed adult support, beyond just supervision. This was also reflected in the open-ended responses. 59% of students reached out to their teacher for support, with 81.4% reporting successfully communicating with them.

The following results came from the final multiple choice questions:

Overall, the remote learning days were a positive and productive learning experience for my child(ren).

56% agree/strongly agree

18% neutral

26% disagree/strongly disagree

As a parent or guardian, the remote learning days were a positive experience for me.

48.3% agree/strongly agree

17% neutral

34% disagree/strongly disagree

In the future, I would prefer:

Remote learning days: 48%

Make up days in June: 25%

A combination of both: 27%

I appreciate the professionalism and thoughtfulness with which parents and guardians shared their thoughts via the open-ended responses. The following themes emerged:

  • An appreciation of being able to experience what their children were learning.
  • An appreciation of the high quality of the assignments and activities that teachers were able to plan, especially considering the short timeframe within which to prepare.
  • Remote learning days were particularly stressful for parents who needed to work from home themselves and/or had competing responsibilities that made it challenging to support their children.
  • Many appreciated the communication between home and the teachers, but the amount of communication could be overwhelming and confusing, too.
  • Many students took their responsibilities very seriously, were intrigued by the change of setting and benefited from the remote learning experience.

Other areas to consider for future remote learning days include:

  • How do we best meet the needs of nontraditional learners who may need extra support that is not readily available at home?
  • Those parents and students who had direct communication with a teacher via Google hangout or Google classroom felt it was extremely beneficial. Many who did not have access to that support expressed a desire to have that personal connection in the future.
  • An opportunity for improvement exists to standardize the expectations in order to provide balance and consistency across the district.
  • What contingency plans can be developed for allowing students and staff to work through an internet and/or power outage?
  • What can be done to better facilitate student independence to alleviate the reliance on parent support?

Overall, these inaugural remote learning days should certainly be deemed a good start, and efforts should be undertaken to better prepare for future opportunities.