When school starts again in the fall, it’s likely that a significant number of students will still be learning remotely. To make classrooms less crowded and prevent the spread of the coronavirus, many states and districts are considering a hybrid approach in which some students attend school and some learn from home, such as by having students alternate between in-person and remote learning.
One of the key lessons learned in the shift to remote learning this spring was the need to make online instruction easily accessible to everyone. K-12 school systems have taken many actions to ensure that students have the technology they need to learn from home, such as distributing mobile devices and wireless hotspots to students who need them and even negotiating deals with internet service providers to extend free or discounted broadband service to low-income families.
These steps are a good start, but they don’t go far enough in overcoming all the barriers teachers face in reaching and engaging all students remotely.
Kindergarten teacher Ben Cogswell has some experience with this issue. He has been teaching for more than 10 years in the Alisal Union School District in Salinas, Calif. It’s a very agricultural community, with many migrant families who don’t speak English at home. When he began his career, he was teaching sixth grade in the sixth most densely populated community in the United States.
As a former technology coach for the district, Cogswell helped get the district up and running with a 1:1 technology program that gave every K-12 student a Chromebook to take home for learning. Two years ago, he decided to return to the classroom as a kindergarten teacher, and he has been successfully blending traditional and digital learning in his classroom ever since — which prepared him well for the shift to remote learning this spring.