The distance class : less is more (Part 1)


By August 29, 2023

The teacher was the physical referent of the class, the permanent facilitator, the moderator.

She divided her time between the school where she taught, participated in meetings with her colleagues, received parents and her home where she prepared his lessons, corrected homework.

And then overnight, all schools closed. Everyone has to teach and learn distance and has to do it now! No magician imagined being able to make the school disappear overnight.

We certainly have the technical means to do so. We can give a distance learning course by videoconference to students staying at home. We can use a virtual class which reproduces the functioning of the class with a shared screen and a chat tool for the pupils.

But none of these solutions has been thought of as a replacement for physical school. In fact, nothing was as ready as we thought. Nothing has ever been thought of on a large scale so that children no longer have to go to school.

The teaching paradigm changed within hours.

The “distance class”

“Teaching is a two way thing!”This is exactly the challenge we face. In a few days we need to invent the distance class – and this is not about distance learning as we understood it.

The distance class starts with the relationship between a teacher and his class – the only guarantee of the quality of learning -. This relationship should be maintained at a distance with a quality equivalent or close to that which existed in the physical space of the classroom.

How to continue teaching “as before”? How to do it without a physical place common to the teacher and his students but with the same protagonists? How to respond to an exceptional situation with the same quality? With what skills, what training, what goals?

All these questions are raised and a mobilized, competent teaching staff must urgently invent a new concept: distance class.

What has changed?

Physical space has disappeared; Students have become invisible; Heads of schools have become invisible; Parents have become more visible; Time has lengthened: the day no longer has clear boundaries between work and leisure.

What remains as before

The teacher is the only one in charge of his class; Classroom assistance is mandatory; All children have the right to be in class; A class has a schedule; Class hours allow children to acquire knowledge and skills by following a well established curriculum

Distance class? Yes but how?

It is reassuring to hold on to what we do best.

The teacher prepares her lesson with care, following on the one hand the school curriculum and on the other hand adapting her teaching to the characteristics of the class group. The lessons are scheduled during the day depending on their difficulty and the attention required from the students; a class will alternate between “difficult” subjects and more “fun” activities to give a rhythm that suits the greatest number of students in the class.

The teacher follows the work of his students in a way as personalized as possible; the teacher questions the students, answers their questions as individually as possible, getting closer to those who need it.

(To be followed)

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