The critics aren’t wrong. Many students and families are frustrated by the new normal. As a teacher, I was frustrated too — my teaching wasn’t as sharp, my students less engaged. Test scores, undoubtedly, will back up these criticisms.
And yet, I don’t think the remote nature of this experiment is to blame. That is to say, returning to campus won’t fix everything. The standard pedagogy of today — teacher introduces new topic, student does work based on that topic, I-do-we-do-you-do — clearly isn’t working through Zoom, because without the physical presence of a teacher, I-do-we-do-you-do falls apart.
I was sitting in the auditorium, waiting for our faculty meeting to begin, when a colleague approached me. I’d met and interacted with this teacher a few times, but we weren’t close.
“Do you have J — — — in your class?” the teacher asked.
I told the teacher that this student had just transferred into my class earlier that week. The teacher responded:
“I hate that kid. Just felt you should know.”
I was shocked, taken aback, at the blatant display of hate and disregard for professional standards. This was not a whisper, but loud and direct. It was not a nuanced heads-up to avoid getting into power struggles with the student, but a simple, unadulterated “I hate that kid.” The only response my shell-shocked brain could summon was a half-hearted “ok,” which I had to repeat two or three times as the teacher expounded on this hate, before the conversation finally concluded…