COVID-19 is still around but schools have been given the okay, or in some cases the mandate, to resume in-person classes. This will give teachers the ability to keep better track of their students. However, most districts have opted for a hybrid schedule, so some students will still remain at home in an e-learning capacity for part of the time. And as a teacher who has returned to school under these circumstances, the hybrid model does not solve the biggest problem of e-learning which is the no-shows.
Many schools and districts are grappling with how to handle students who have completed little work, or haven’t even logged on at-all. This problem is somewhat understandable in a paradigm in which everyone is forced to be at home, but all around the country, thousands of students who have chosen the option of e-learning have not logged on for a single day on online work.
What can be done about students who are not participating in online work?
- See if it is a tech issue
Early on in e-learning we gave families Chromebooks and hotspots and made a lot of assumptions. We assumed the tech worked. We assumed it was compatible. We assumed it was adequate for the programs we were using. We assumed that students and families knew how to use it. A lot of those assumptions were wrong. Before you jump on kids for not doing work, first make sure they have everything they need on their end.
If you see that a student has no trouble accessing YouTube or games, then you can be pretty sure it is not a hardware issue.
- Make parent contact
One of the reasons that many parents opted for e-learning is because from their perspective it is working for their child. In some cases, this may be accurate, but for some it is not, and they are simply unaware. This is especially the case for parents whose children struggle with behavior. Put yourself in the position of that parent. Going from a situation where you are receiving negative calls everyday to none at all could seem like a win. Teachers need to communicate how far behind in work students are.
They also need to communicate daily work expectations. Some kids like to claim they have less work than they do, and their parents assume because they are on a computer they are working.
- Reach out to the student
If you have permission from their parents, nothing is better than calling or texting a student directly. Talking to mom or dad is fine but chances are they have to work and can’t devote as much time to hounding their kids during the day as you can.
Related to this is friends. Maybe the student that is missing in action has a friend that is on top of it. Reach out to the friend that is on top of their work to and ask them to encourage the student who isn’t.
If all else fails, the requirements to attend school have not been altered. Parents and students may need to be reminded that attendance, virtual or otherwise, is not optional and that habitually missing school is called truancy. Also suggest to the students that have been struggling to work at home that maybe they would do better if they were in-person.
At the end of the day, there is not much you can do if these actions do not work. E-learning puts more responsibility on the students and families and if they are not able to hold their end of the bargain then your options are limited. Still, there are actions we can take, and we should do them. Don’t just let students fall by the wayside.