Remote learning challenges Elementary School students, teachers, and parents

by Andrew Kastelman, Business Development and Marketing Manager

No more running around in the gym. No more laughing on the playground. With COVID-19 forcing schools to close for the last three months, Elementary School students, teachers, and parents have felt the brunt of remote learning.

With challenges ranging from working parents, little structure, and the inability for kids to sit in front of a computer for long stretches, online learning has been a struggle. 

Elementary school parent Lauren Schept details these challenges. 

“I think there’s been a big learning curve. It’s been a very different experience learning at home versus being in the classroom,” Schept said. “It’s really challenging to be a parent working at home while also teaching your children.”

Elementary school learning has a slightly different format from high school learning. While both use Schoology, Elementary school differs as classes do not meet at a specific time. Students are given new assignments each day to complete.

Coleman School third grade teacher Tara Picinich believes online learning has gone well despite its challenges.

“I feel a good rapport had been established while in school so we were able to take this challenge on together,” Picinich said. “ I am extremely proud of my students and their ability to adapt to an unprecedented time of learning.”

Coleman School principal Ed Thompson agrees that teachers and students have done a successful job during online learning.

“For a brand new format of learning, I believe our teachers and students are doing a remarkable job,” Thompson said. 

Teachers have engaged with students in various ways besides Schoology, including Zoom, Google Slides, and pre-recorded videos.

Picinich thinks keeping a routine is important as it stimulates interest for the daily lessons.

“I post a morning message for my students letting them know about the day ahead of us and share my morning joke. This was always the way we started our day in school and I wanted to keep something that was familiar to them.” Picinich said.

Another main challenge for teachers was depending on technology for all lessons and communication. Coleman School second grade teacher Julie Palmeri discusses these challenges.

“Having taught Second Grade for 17 years and switching to an online learning approach made me feel like I was a beginning teacher again,” Palmeri said.

Parents also play a large role in remote learning. Many help their kids set up their computer and complete their homework. Palmeri recognizes the importance of parental involvement.

“Parental involvement in this environment is critical and contributes greatly to success, however, at times parents are unavailable due to work commitments and the students have a difficult time as a result,” Palmeri said. 

With uncertainty on whether schools will reopen next year, all parties involved with remote learning will look to improve it should it continue next year. Palmeri suggests that enhanced communication will be necessary.

“Frequent administrative level outreach to parents to help set appropriate expectations and help parents to better understand the challenges that teachers are facing with their children and that their support of their children and teachers in sustaining a successful virtual learning environment is important,” Palmeri said.

Picinich expects teachers to become more advanced with technology.

“I hope that teachers have the opportunity to analyze the technologies and practices and strategies that teachers, students and parents found most successful in order to build upon them,” Picinich said.

Online learning has created different standards to judge a student’s learning. Principal Thompson believes his students have achieved their goals to continue their learning.

“My goal has been for our students to be engaged and challenged each day and to continue to grow,” Thompson said. “Although learning never ends, I am happy with the progress our teachers and students have made during this very difficult and unique time.”