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Eleven Vacuous Truths, and One Lie

July 29, 2020 am31 8:06 am

The NYC Department of Education falsely claims that Hybrid is easy, but Remote is very tricky.

In reality, they are both tricky. Remote did not go well this past spring. It is imperative that it be improved. But Hybrid if completely untried, and involves complexity beyond what Tweed can handle (which is why the execution is pushed off on principals.)

In the hybrid models they are pushing, one teacher will teach the kids on the days they are in school, and another will teach them when they are home – and these teachers will coordinate. I’m not sure exactly how, or who has the responsibility for overall planning, marking, etc.

In an alternate that is much-discussed, a teacher does both the remote and in-person teaching for a class (probably by not really teaching remotely – just assignments). In that case, four different groups of kids, or three, rotate the in-person class, while nominally continuing their work at home. Let’s say there are three groups, and you and me are in different groups. That means we will each have about 20 in-person classes in the fall – but whatever you learned in person – I didn’t, and whatever I learned in person – you didn’t. Not sure how a teacher can keep a class on one pace this way.

In short, the idea of hybrid teaching is very tricky. And all of that effort – while classes stay two-thirds or three-quarters remote. That’s quite a trade off for very little in-person class. And of course there is more to the trade-off in the form of safety, but this post is not about safety…

Remote, on the other hand, one teacher plans for a full class. Teaches a full class. Grades a full class. It did not go so well in the spring, but the logistics are not complicated.

And with either remote, or “hybrid” – we have to work on improving the remote parts.

Eleven Vacuous Truths, and One Lie

In my last post, I looked at the NYCDOE’s – Academic Policy FAQs for Return to School 2020. Here’s the document: academic-policy-faqs-for-return-to-school-2020

For 11 questions the answers were vacuous. 180 minutes, or something that feels like 180 minutes. Do your best. Make it feel similar to a regular class. And my favorite – we will get back to you. But one question stood out, #3:

Let’s look closely at #3, as they discuss whether a principal can offer a course fully remotely.

Can schools offer fully remote courses?

Principals must carefully weigh the decision to provide fully remote courses to ensure that the course can still be delivered with comparable scope and rigor to a traditional course. Considerations for offering fully remote courses must include the following:

  • The extent to which the learning experiences required in the course can be readily adapted to a fully remote learning environment,
  • The extent to which students have access to materials, technology, and supports needed to be successfully in a fully remote learning environment for an entire course,
  • The extent to which the school has prepared students to be successful in a fully remote course, including pre-requisite academic experiences and learning habits, and
  • The extent to which each student’s overall academic program incorporates remote learning experience to meet their individual needs.

Did you see what I am referring to? “Principals must carefully weigh the decision to provide fully remote courses to ensure that the course can still be delivered with comparable scope and rigor to a traditional course.” They are comparing a remote course to a traditional course, and saying, if the remote is not comparable, then you have to do hybrid. There is nowhere any attempt to compare a hybrid course to a traditional course, except their refrain of “Schools must ensure that X courses are of comparable scope and rigor to those traditionally offered but are not required to meet the exact instructional time requirements”

The underlying assumption would be hilarious, if we and our students were not being set up to be the victims. They doubt a remote course can match a regular course, but are fully confident that a hybrid course will be fine. That’s one day in person, followed by 1 – 3 days remote, different remote content for each cohort of students. The choreography would challenge a pro – and the people coming up with this at Tweed (remotely) – not pros.

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