SOL March 27th Placeholder Curriculum

Never thought I would be able to say,

“Coming to you live from Mrs. Spelic’s living room, here is today’s spectacular lesson on tossing and catching!”

But here we are. Mostly sitting in the same boat; separated, of course.

I am duly impressed with my colleagues who plow on with their mini lessons and with students who share their work in so many different ways. My specialist colleagues and I carry on as best we can. What this new modality does afford is the possibility of getting to know our students and their capabilities individually differently (if that makes sense). While it’s possible to know and evaluate children’s skills in a classroom, there’s certainly plenty that gets lost, goes under in the large group. Now that each child is responding on their own to each assignment we can acknowledge nuances we could not before.

I’m also not coping with behavior challenges. I can’t claim that a child is not listening or failing to follow instructions. Based on student responses I can make guesses about how well my instructions were understood. Or about how closely parents are involved in helping. At this stage, I could care less about skill development in tossing or catching or jumping and landing.

My role here in this distance learning scheme, as I see it, is less to deliver substitutes for what we would have done and instead to provide movement opportunities that invite fun practice. I want to be mindful of parents’ time and energies as they do their best to manage all of the things at home. So I keep things short and simple: 3-4 minute videos to either follow along or introduce an idea of an activity. Kids can do these on their own or with siblings or parents or whoever else may want to join (pets!). In many of the videos, there’s no talking, just background music and me demonstrating. For the older kids I’ve taken resources from youtube to offer some choices, then ask for their feedback.

During this time of social isolation on the one hand, and intense family bonding (of necessity) on the other, I do believe that we as teachers (often with our own family challenges) need to remember that this is not going to be a good time for great teaching and learning. There will be highlights and bright spots, yes. Let’s celebrate those. But we also need to stay realistic and compassionate and generous with ourselves and each other.

What we can offer now is a placeholder curriculum suffused with extra portions of care, empathy, calm and humor. We’re only human and we’re also hurting. Let’s keep that in mind as we distance ourselves while trying to maintain those strong ties with our students and our families.

8 thoughts on “SOL March 27th Placeholder Curriculum

  1. Thank you for this. We have been on Spring Break this week and will start remote learning on Monday. I appreciate everyone who has already started and has shared their successes and their struggles.

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  2. I love your perspective on virtual learning as “placeholder curriculum.” You make great points about getting to know our students in different ways, not having to mediate behavior issues, and that this is not the time for best teaching and learning. It’s all about connection – with students and with our families. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. I think things get a bit easier when everyone understands that distance learning will never be the same as living and breathing school. I like how you built this slice to share your thoughts. Have a restful weekend!

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  4. I am glad that you are talking about the pros and cons of this new reality. Our school board is in “phase 1” of elearning – we’re just checking in with students & offering things to work on for students who want to. We’ll be here in this pattern for at least one more week. As I read about other efforts around the world, I am aware of just how complicated this may be, so I especially appreciate when you say, “we also need to stay realistic and compassionate and generous with ourselves and each other.” Oh yes!

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  5. Such great advice… But we also need to stay realistic and compassionate and generous with ourselves and each other….as we are working to design more of this… additional weeks of instruction, I keep thinking about how to build this in. How can we all give each other a bit of grace during this time?

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  6. “…that this is not going to be a good time for great teaching and learning.” Yeah, I think giving ourselves this grace is incredibly important at the moment. Keep going! 🙂

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  7. Placeholder curriculum really resonates with me as well. I simply don’t think it’s fair to my students, with all they may now be dealing with, with all they are likely to soon be dealing with, to take a business as usual approach to teaching. Some bright spots, something helpful, something kind, something engaging…. that’s what I’m going for here.

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