Through both my own education and by what I have observed as we developed and launched ChalkTalk, I’ve always known that teachers are the unsung heroes of our world.
The last eight months spent adapting to the realities of COVID-19 have only confirmed that. Teachers have had to exert even more effort and are digging deep for creative solutions to serve their students. They are coming up with new ways to engage students for distance learning, and figuring out how to arrange classrooms safely and institute health protocols in schools.
With distance learning, teachers are going the extra mile to connect with their students. Karen, my friend’s mother and a PE teacher in New Jersey, has worked to keep her students active, doing jumping jacks right along with them on Google Hangouts. Lauren, another friend who is a fifth-grade math teacher and special ed teacher in NYC, has continued teaching real-time classes over Zoom and holding office hours to make sure none of her students fall behind.
The sudden (and now partially-sustained) shift to distance learning has laid bare the importance of human connection for teachers and students. From the technology standpoint, self-paced, student-centric learning software and programs are readily available. However, implementing those options in place of a traditional, in-person classroom experience has not been shown to be widely effective. As the “first wave of personalized learning” demonstrated, these self-paced options are often plagued by low completion rates as students struggle with motivation and discipline in the absence of a human connection. They personalized learning but dehumanized education.
Education isn’t content and it’s not technology; education is human. Technology offers us wonderful tools and ways to facilitate learning — especially distance learning — but those tools are meant to enable teachers, not replace them. This is the fundamental truth that drives our mission and model at ChalkTalk. It’s why even in the age of distance learning, the best learning is happening in real time.
Through all the challenges of distance learning, from spotty connections to teaching kindergarteners how to use the mute button, teachers are adapting and finding new ways to spark a love of learning and keep students motivated. Human connection is fundamental. Even during a global pandemic, teachers are discovering new methods of amplifying their human connection with their students through the available channels.
All this extra work is being highlighted on social media, as teachers also look to share their best ideas and support one another. What these teachers are doing is amazing, and it inspired us to highlight some of our favorite examples from TikTok in the video below.
For more on how teachers are using social media to connect and share, check out this New York Times article.
So as students, parents, and educators continue to navigate an uncertain and shifting learning environment, here’s an ode to teachers. Today we’re launching TikTok Tuesdays, where every Tuesday we’ll be posting our favorite teacher TikToks to our social media channels celebrating teachers who — despite all the challenges they’re facing — continue to motivate, inspire, and teach. Because ultimately, education is real-time, education is connection, education is human.