Thoughts about Distance “Learning”

As my thirty-first year of teaching high school quickly approaches, I am one of thousands that have concerns about Distance “Learning.”  I wanted to share with people my thoughts.

1).  March 16 to End of the school year was, for all sorts of reasons, a disaster.
We (public school teachers who teach in the classroom) did all we could to change the way the job had been done for decades prior to March 16, 2020!  Zoom?  What the hell is Zoom?  Answer:  At 54 years old, during my childhood, ZOOM was a children’s show on Public Broadcasting System!!  Grades?  No Grades?  Teachers holding class whenever, oppose holding class at the same time they would have during the school year on campus.

Even now, there is a percentage of students who have until December 2020 to turn in work for this past school year?  Really?  

All-in-all, Distance “Learning” was a disaster.  One thing that was a “saving grace” was we knew the students; unlike this next year.  

2).  Teachers have chosen sides. 
Boo – you stink.  By having teachers & students on campus for an hour / a day / two days / and my God – AN ENTIRE WEEK(?), you want to risk all of our lives!  By placing us (teachers / children) in the classroom, you are a terrible person!!  Let alone an awful teacher.  You’re probably voting for Trump and you’re a fascist, if not a racist-fascist!  

Boo – you stink.  You want to sit on your lazy ass at home!  You care more about your health than you do your students’ health.  Students who are suffering by being at home and getting a crappy education.  You are a terrible person!!  Let alone an awful teacher.  You’re probably voting for Biden and believe in socialism.  

3).  Students are now empowered more than ever.  
Students are “social justice warriors.”  More so than in 1989 (first year teaching), high school students look at their teacher through a lens / filter: race; gender; religion. So dangerous and shallow – much like we were when we were teenagers.  We listen to 14 – 18 year old students as they have adult minds!  Are you kidding me?  

Therefore, take me for example…
I am fifty-four years old.  I am Caucasian.  Since March 30, 1991, I have been happily married to Diana; therefore, I am heterosexual.  I am a Christian.  I tend to be moderate-conservative / libertarian.  As of July 22, 2020 I will vote for ME as President of the United States of America.  I trust me.  I do not want the United States of America to be a theocracy.  I strongly believe GOD will have the final say.  

So, knowing me through my BRIEF description, you might have the empathy to understand, “Do I (Paul Everts) feel safe on a high school campus?”  Are you kidding me?  No!  However, to help me feel safe on a high school campus, I need Jesus Christ, my Savior.  Whatever happens is what Jesus Christ wants FOR me. Staying at home or on a high school campus with no students, ironically Distance “Learning” is a plus!!  I am more safe being at home than I am being on a high school campus.  

4).  Music was created to be a shared experience.
These virtual ensembles bother me.  Yes.  One way they bother me is I do not want to be a recording engineer.  NO interest.  Another reason is … I do not want to give any idea that this is the future of ensembles!!  It is now an option!  It is being done.  Right?  So, it is now an option.  

As a musician and / or audience member, what many of us enjoy about the art of music is seeing several people / each hold an instruments and / or singing.  The idea of chaos turning into order is so spiritual.  People as different as can be, come together and make incredible music.  There are not too many other activities that have that ability.  

Distance “Learning” is here!  And as always, we are going to have to choose our attitude about change.  I HATE DISTANCE “LEARNING!”  IT IS THE WORSE TIME OF MY CAREER!  

July 9 and July 22, I heard from six of my students how bad Distance “Learning” is.  Teachers not communicating with them.  The amount of work was overwhelming.  Little to no accountability.  Without going into detail, one or two students had serious struggles.  Now, how are they going to feel knowing this misery continues?  Talk about an attitude adjustment.  My goodness.  The experience was not close to be equal to what they would have had pre-THE VID.  

Now, I need to get my attitude in check.  Realize that this (Distance “Learning”) is what was deemed the “best” way to respond to THE VID.  I disagree with the response.  I was ready to go back:  lost weight; vitamins; lowered my blood pressure; ate better; worked out; etc.  I can not allow that disagreement to lead me to do a bad job.  

My advice to all of us…  

  • Put yourself in their shoes!  Have empathy in your heart. 
  • Teach your students the way you would want your children to be taught.  Don’t have children?  Then, ask your students’ parents what it’s like and then listen to the answers! 
  • Own the fact (and this is pre-THE VID) that many of our students, their families, community members, politicians don’t give a crap about you (teacher).  How many of them sent you cards?  How many of them emailed you and asked how you were doing?  They don’t have to give a crap about you!  Don’t look for that (empathy for teachers; folks are frustrated with public education / “indoctrination” is the perception). 
  • Hold your students and yourself accountable!  Currently, I am studying how to ZOOM better and it still sucks (giggle).  Zoom-Zoom-Zooma-Zoom; we’re gonna zooma zooma zoom.

At the end of every day, be able to tell the truth:  I AM DOING THE BEST I CAN.  God bless all of us.  I am here for you.