What would "school" be like if teachers were available online year-round like they are now?
I recently chatted with a teacher who is considering leaving her online classroom open after the school year ends as a lifeline for her students. She's seen too much of their home-lives on camera and wants the classroom community to be available to them.
As of late, I've been doing a lot of thinking about "school" as a physical space with designated times. Almost every day during quarantine, I have taken a walk past my child's school and have been surprised to see students coming to visit the building. They stand in front of the main entrance with big smiles and ask a parent to take a picture. It's surreal. The building calls them even when the doors are locked. Can "school" have the same sense of belonging in a virtual space?
Video calls from inside the home can be humanizing for students and teachers. It removes the hierarchy in the classroom since we are all sitting down in front of our computers. We see the personal touches of photographs, posters, artwork, and even a pet enter the frame. And in my teacher friend's case, she can see that not all of her students live in conditions that are conducive for learning. She is better able to meet her students exactly where they are.
Can online classrooms serve students in new and different ways? Or is the physical building where students thrive? Is there a place for both in supporting students without overloading teachers? What are your thoughts?