Regional Office of Education: Don’t Say Kane Schools Are Closed — Remote Learning Is Going On Every Day
BY MATT MUNTNER, Kane County Regional Office of Education
The words “closed” and “shut-down” have been commonly used to describe the state of schools in Kane County and across the state of Illinois — and that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Due to the COVID-19 crisis and the statewide stay-at-home order, students and teachers of all Kane County schools are engaging in remote learning.
So, what is remote learning?
The Illinois State Board of Education defines remote learning as education that happens outside of the traditional classroom because the student and teacher are separated by distance. But, of course, there’s more to it than that.
Remote learning can be real-time or flexibility timed, and it may or may not involve technology.
It cannot be assumed that every family or every student has access to the necessary devices and appropriate Internet connection at their home. In many cases, students categorized as “at risk” by schools are the ones without access to devices or reliable internet.
A school community can be connected and thriving even if the physical school building is closed. Remote learning that emphasizes interaction and authentic and differentiated learning opportunities will help students stay connected to teachers and classmates and ease the transition from traditional to remote learning.
Developing consistency for remote learning on which students can rely is key as they and their families adapt to unprecedented changes in education and society in general.
Successful, consistent remote learning includes:
- Clearly articulated goals.
- Cross-curricular collaboration to focus instruction.
- Options for students that tap into students’ interests, readiness levels, and learning styles while providing families flexibility.
- A mix of real-time, flexibly timed, technological, and non-technological options that avoids penalizing students for their choice.
- A common platform where students can access work and find support and resources (for both online and non-online work).
- A clear plan of communication involving the school, teachers, students, and families.
- Genuine interest and effort in supporting students’ social, emotional, and academic growth.
The Regional Office of Education encourages teachers to give additional optional work, engagement opportunities, and enrichment opportunities (e.g., independent research projects) as long as it is made clear to students and families that the work is optional and will not negatively impact a student’s grade.
Additional engagement is especially important for primary grades, where it is not developmentally appropriate to expect a student to attend to academic tasks for a long period of time.
Instead, students and families should be supported in having access to varied enrichment opportunities. In addition, students and families are encouraged to support academic skills and social-emotional health through activities that extend beyond assigned remote learning work.
A Note From Regional Superintendent Pat Dal Santo
These last few weeks have been difficult for all — especially superintendents, principals, teachers, educators, administrators and aides.
Our teachers switched up their schedules and immediately got to work to prepare once the decision was made. These individuals have done an incredible job these last few weeks.
On top of participating in remote learning, our teachers are also dealing with some of the same difficulties we are experiencing as parents: running a household, working and helping anxious children navigate a homebound near future.
But they’re not just teaching our kids. They’re checking in on them, being patient with them and reassuring them that things are going to be alright.
To the administrators, teachers, staff, school board members and volunteers, thank you for everything you have done and continue to do.
Keep up the great work! We are proud to have all of you in the Kane County school system!