The Nitty-Gritty is a series of posts that think about how an actual classroom teacher is planning to deliver instruction for the new school year despite the uncertainty of the pandemic’s progress, upending orders from the Florida Department of Education that require school districts to revisit and revise their plans, and the resulting inability of those school districts to let the public and employees know how learning will proceed four weeks.

Part One discussed the organization of weekly curriculum units that would be adaptable to a variety of models from 5 day in-person to remote learning.

Part Two looked at the structure teenagers need to be successful, including the often-invisible structure inherent in the school day when they are in their buildings as well as the needs they reported on Grumpy Old Teacher’s (GOT) May survey.

Part Three was the very thoughtful response to Part Two by a parent.

Part Four looks at the issue of attendance. (Now a moot issue. My school district, like others around the state, has decided that students who enroll in remote learning, which is different from transferring to a virtual school, will attend via Duval HomeRoom synchronously. That means students must sign onto the platform and spend the scheduled school hours with their teachers throughout a seven-hour school day. Breaks for lunch and class changes will occur as they follow their school’s time schedule from home.)

When GOT asked his students about registering attendance, their ideas were all over the map. Essentially, every teacher did something different in the spring as there was no time to agree to a uniform method everyone would use.

Parents also were confused by the attendance issue. The Part Three response mentioned the difficulty for parents to keep track of the various methods and be sure their child had complied with each teacher’s method. This was more of an issue for secondary students, who had multiple classes to report to, than elementary.

While this issue is moot for the fall, it is important to extrapolate the greater issue, which is the need for school systems to have uniform procedures in place in order to reduce the stress, the less-than-desirable outcomes, and the confusion we experienced in the spring.

As for attendance, that has been solved. Children must be online at the scheduled time.

But that raises another issue, which GOT will discuss in another post: how much screen time is optimal and how much is too much for children? Does synchronous learning at home violate what we know to be best practices?

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