At IST we strive for people to learn more, every day. This goes for everything we do, and during this time with the Corona crisis it seems like we – now more than ever – need to help each other to learn more.
Many professions are making a heroic effort to help make this “state of emergency” we are experiencing as normal as possible, especially for all our young and hopefuls. Of particular interest to us is, of course, the teachers.
We have a lot of contact with teachers at IST and we are very impressed by the way they handle the situation. Together, we hope to make the best out of an impossible situation in order to allow our children to learn more.
With schools being closed in three out of the four countries in which IST operates, and high schools closed in the fourth, we want to tell the stories of these everyday heroes – the teachers. They were encouraged to share how they cope with the situation. Perhaps we can learn from each other and be inspired across countries.
In Denmark, we talked to Louise, who teaches the 6th grade in a Danish public primary school.
What are your greatest challenges regarding teaching remotely?
As so many pupils enter the digital platforms at the same time every day, the systems get overloaded. This means that during the day we experience that we cannot enter the platforms, or it works very slowly. Not being able to use the platforms when we want is a challenge for the kids and for us.
The contact with every child – and providing the right amount of help to each child – is a great challenge too. It is hard and takes a lot of time. When the platforms are under pressure and we cannot provide help for the child when needed, the relationship between me and the children is under pressure.
Another challenge is to adapt my teaching as I normally do. I have to give a common message and the same instruction to everyone which does not meet the individual’s need for help.
How do you keep in touch with the students?
Every morning at 9 I send out a plan for the day with a description of what the children must do today. As Denmark has a common governmental communication platform for all children it is easy to communicate with children and parents in the same system – but I also use email, Instagram, SMS and old-fashion phone calls to communicate with everyone. During the day I am available through these platforms for the students to ask me questions.
Additionally, I make “home videos” with instructions, and now as we need to be home for an even longer time, I will do some live online teaching as well.
Do you think the digital infrastructure is in place to teach remotely?
I think the foundation for teaching remotely is in place. Overall, we have some nice and well-functional systems and a good communication tool that everybody is familiar with. However, I find myself lucky as I work with children that are at an age that can communicate by writing down their questions and thoughts and send them to me. It could be great if we had had some kind of video platform integrated in the communication platform that could make it possible to talk to more than one student at a time. If you teach younger children that cannot write, it seems hard to use the digital platforms.
What is your biggest concern regarding children actually learning something?
The motivation for having some kind of school-discipline at home, without friends and without a teacher to structure the day seems to be a great challenge – especially now when the period of time that we have to stay home has been prolonged. It is quite easy not to start your computer and avoid watching your teacher on a video.
Furthermore, I think the lack of dialogue with teachers about how to solve the exercises can be problematic for many children in order to learn something. Different students need different kinds of explanations, and that process is indeed difficult to teach remotely.
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