Times are still tough here in Israel because of Coronavirus and the disasters it has brought about. We are still in lockdown and most school activity is carried out online from home. While most schools are closed, Special Education pupils and At-Risk pupils do attend school (when they and/or their teachers are not sick, and it is not just Corona) so both these pupils and their teachers have been going to school on a somewhat regular basis. This is my case, too: one of the courses I teach includes Special Ed and At-Risk pupils, which means I go to school to teach them Face to Face, while I teach the other courses fully online.
Well, that is life.
This brings me to reflect on overcoming obstacles, and not being afraid to fail and fall so as to get up again and keep trying to make it to the end successfully. These are demanding times for all of us, but it must be especially difficult for K-12 children. I teach teenagers, so I have them in mind when I think of this.
While adults do face hardships, too, I tend to believe that years and life experience eventually might provide many (some?) grown-ups with some sort of perspective, or whatever that is that helps them (us) see the light at the end of the tunnel. I am fully aware that this is a generalization, since there are people who need superpowers to get up and go.
Learning from home fully online can be scary for K-12 pupils. It is quite possible to feel overwhelmed when learning that way. They need us (adults, teachers), to understand them especially when they have to overcome the obstacle of learning from afar.
Indeed, learning from home fully or partly online is a (major) obstacle for many K-12 pupils. The fact that it is (wrongly, I guess) assumed that simply because “they” were born into the Digital Age, most K-12 pupils know how to use technology does not mean that they know how to learn with it. Being masters in the use of some Social Media (whichever is popular with them nowadays), and of Smartphones, does not mean that they can handle learning online well. At one point or another, if not most of the time, many pupils feel frustrated, discouraged, angry, disconnected and more. Many give up: Pupils may join our Zoom meetings, but are they really there with us as we teach and they learn? Many are not. Many fear failing, too. It is important for us, teachers, to understand these feelings, and to better understand them, it helps to have experienced them.
As a learner, I have had the luck to experience those feelings pretty recently. I have been a Moodle enthusiast (a bit more than that, I guess: I am kind of crazy about Moodle) for a long time, and felt quite sure of my abilities with the environment. I felt sure enough to take up both the MoodleBites for Teachers and the Moodle Educator Certificate with HRDNZ starting June 1st 2020. I completed both in early September 2020. I believe the best lesson I learned (re-learned, I should say) was how to overcome failure and those attached feelings probably most K-12 pupils experience, and find it hard to cope with. Incidentally, I learned more stuff as well (I recommend taking up MEC with HRDNZ highly).
I was lucky to have a course facilitator who was as inflexible with his demands as he was “understanding” with me as a learner (and I was not an “easy” one). MEC honestly, helped me fully experience what it is to overcome obstacles: I touched the ground several times, feeling somehow stupid because I could not grasp what it was that I was doing poorly. That helped me understand how many of my teenage pupils feel when they don’t get what I expect them to do (It’s just that I am older than they are).
True: I had had that understanding before, but there is nothing like falling to feel what it is to have to get up, and failing to enjoy success. I usually told my teenage pupils about my struggles at school, but then this last September, when school started in Israel, I could tell them about my struggles during the MEC courses. Sometimes, learning about their teacher’s struggles can be motivating for teens, who are in the midst of shaping their personalities, perceptions of the world of so much more.
Incidentally, I “teach” Moodle to teachers, too, so I share this experience with my colleagues (learners), too. None of us were born Moodle proficient.
Times are still tough indeed. But sometimes you get something good out of a rotten reality.
Be well and healthy!