I originally thought that zoom schooling would be a disaster for elementary students and kids from backgrounds that didn’t especially value schooling. And it would be a surmountable disadvantage for high school kids who were engaged with school.
But now that we’ve done it for most of a year, I’m leaning more towards “mixed”.
I don’t have kids in school. My exposure to zoom schooling has been through interviewing 4 kids for college admissions (all high school students who are pretty engaged with schooling), with tutoring in an urban school where most of the kids have older siblings who dropped out (high school students from backgrounds that don’t value schooling) and from chatting with neighbors (elementary and middle school kids from families that value schooling.)
I opened the interviews by asking them how the pandemic schooling was going, because it was the obvious elephant in the room and sort of a soft intro-question. Of the four kids I interviewed:
One was autistic, and was pretty happy with zoom schooling. He enjoyed playing with his dog during the day.
The other three were neurotypical and all likely prospects for admission to a competitive college. One of them went to a private school that had fully reopened, and was extremely happy about that.
Another assured me it was going okay, but he clearly would have preferred a normal school experience.
The fourth surprised me. She said that while she missed the social life of in-person school, she actually found the zoom schooling was working really well for her academically. She could replay the lectures, look stuff up, and generally learn at her own pace. And, she continued, the (public, mostly closed) school had been pretty good about creating some in-person experiences for the kids. For instance, her chorus group met outdoors, distanced and masked, when the weather wasn’t too bad. And they had software to enable them to create group performances.
For that matter, a friend who teaches honors physics at a mostly-minority school outside Chicago says his kids are scoring higher this year than last on (essentially) the same tests. Of course, he also wrote me the other day about one of his kids who was trying to re-enter the US at the Mexican border, and was detained, and managed to get permission to call my friend to tell him he’d be having trouble submitting his work, before he cell phone was confiscated for good. But… that’s not really a Zoom Schooling issue. (except that the kid had managed to stay in school and excel in classes while out of the country, I suppose.)
At first I despaired of the kids in the urban high school. But while some of them have completely checked out, the school says they’ve actually had good retention this year, because the flexibility of zoom has allowed some of the kids who would usually drop out to remain enrolled. I’m mostly working with the kids who have dropped behind and are struggling, but I start each class in the open classroom, and it’s clear that a lot of the kids ARE engaged, and some of them seem to be doing very well.
And as for neighbors… My town has mostly done “hybrid” learning, but also set up a full-time remote option, which one of my neighbors opted into. She say the school is now inviting them to return to in-person learning, and she thinks it will be disruptive, and wants to keep her kids (elementary and middle school) in the fully remote option. She says they are doing really well academically, like their teachers, like their classmates, and she’s cross that the set-up is likely to be disrupted. Other neighbors have said that the hybrid model seems to be working well for their kids. They said that last year, when the school suddenly switched at the end of the year, was a complete waste of time. But this year, when the school had time to prepare to teach remotely it’s gone pretty well.
So… what have your experiences been?