What makes teaching so rewarding for you

Distance learning : "Children don't learn by themselves"

In my opinion, a blessing for the primary school students: Better to have short, strict school closings in order to be able to learn reasonably normally with incidences of less than 35 per hundred thousand, instead of weeks or months of alternating lessons or regular lessons with very severe impairments. Very difficult communication and prevented facial expressions through the masks, cold, outside noise, lengthy hand washing, restricted or completely prohibited sports and music lessons, neither in the break nor in class, a real togetherness, mainly frontal lessons instead of a colorful mix of partner, group, project - and station work and some other things are not really conducive to good, effective learning. We will see when the schools will reopen in January and also whether there will be another increase in the numbers and politicians are once again faced with the question of how they will then regulate school operations.

In the early summer, many positive aspects of alternating classes became apparent

With regard to the question of alternate or distance learning, there are various aspects that can be assessed differently depending on the perspective. In early summer, many positive aspects of alternating lessons in divided classes became apparent: the smaller group size made it easier to provide individual support. The children were able to participate more intensively. An at least somewhat larger workspace turned out to be very useful, as did the reduced background noise. And the reduced content brought a focus on the essentials and a deeper understanding.

However, that should not hide the fact that alternating instruction and distance learning can be problematic in times of the Corona. Ultimately, it became clear in the months of school closings and the subsequent change of lessons in the first half of the year that there was a wide range of completely different effects on primary school children, depending on the parental home. In my opinion, a rather small group has acquired a lot of skills, some of which go beyond the given school content and especially in the digital world. Some of these children learned far more effectively and with a greater focus and were able to be encouraged in their individual talents and interests.

Some children did not learn anything in distance learning or even forgot what they had learned

On the other hand, there are children who, in some cases, have not only learned nothing, but have even forgotten what they have already learned. These children have probably lost at least half a school year, even if the teacher had digital contact with them every day, sent learning videos and set individually tailored tasks. The children's learning depended very much on whether and to what extent someone was there to accompany the child and encourage the learning.

Leaving out the higher risk of infection, I hear many primary school teachers who ultimately prefer, with a view to the children, to teach the whole class together than to work alternately, in shifts or in distance learning. It is important to them to be able to be in direct interaction with every child and that with as much time and as little restlessness and unfamiliarity as possible.

School learning is goal-oriented, rich in content, and constructive

It is often assumed that children learn independently. As a rule, they don't do that at first. School learning is very different from situational and biological learning. It is goal-oriented, rich in content, constructive and networking, demanding, often more abstract and theoretical, intensive in practice and quite demanding.

Work techniques and processes have to be learned first. The ability to understand and implement tasks must first be acquired.

Children must first be introduced to school learning; they need guidance and child-friendly, small-step approaches. Work techniques and processes have to be learned first. The ability to understand and implement tasks must first be acquired. Some children really have to be "fed", as it is called in the teacher jargon. These children do nothing of their own accord, take nothing from what is offered and do not develop anything of their own. They also often lack the necessary willingness to make an effort. In addition, children of primary school age hardly manage to motivate or even discipline themselves. It takes a person to steer and guide it.

The essential thing in elementary school is to be able to learn

The essential thing in primary school is therefore not just the subject matter itself, but above all the organization of learning and the ability to do so. For this reason, the proposed video switch in the classroom would also make little sense. There is seldom a specialist lecture worth seeing, instead there are many bite-sized pieces of knowledge that only find their place in the child through the work of the teacher.

One would see - usually completely underestimated by society and politics - how a teacher structures the day, creates emotional security in the children with rituals and harmony, enables relationships and trust through affection, a smile and mindfulness, rhythmizes tension and relaxation, the interaction of many children in a small space designed and guided, responding to sensitivities and needs, here helps to find the notebook, there addresses a child by name to get them out of their distraction, gives others feedback with facial expressions and gestures, here notices that a child is having difficulties and explains something to them again, while others already need additional tasks, are always encouraged and given impulses to think further. Until hopefully every child deals with the content of the lesson before the concentration is over after a few minutes and the teacher reacts to it again in an educationally adept manner. Learning has to be designed.

Many primary school children are not yet able to organize themselves

All this immediate and created and designed by the teacher is not possible at a distance, not even digitally. As valuable as digitization is and would be, it cannot compensate for the fact that many children of primary school age are not yet able to organize themselves and work independently, and certainly not many hours at a time.

Even alternating lessons would therefore be problematic if one wanted to break the dependence on the parental home. Tasks and procedures have to be explained in advance in a time-consuming manner in such a way that children can work with them alone, as written tasks are usually not understood - many are still overwhelmed or forget what to do. In retrospect, everything has to be discussed again or even worked out anew to make sure that every child has understood everything.

Find individual solutions with the families

So there is a lot to be said in favor of regular operations in primary schools from an educational point of view, but this requires a small number of cases. For elementary school, as a model for reducing contact with higher numbers of cases, it would probably make the most sense to decide individually with each family whether the child learns better at home or better at school in this exceptional situation. In this way, the individual conditions can best be incorporated, for example to what extent someone is at home who cares, to what extent digital support is possible, whether family members belong to the risk group or which general attitude is prevalent.

In any case, it would be important to finally adapt the curriculum to the extraordinary situation as well as the specifications for performance measurement and the creation of certificates.

Should the schools remain closed for longer, it would be important, especially for primary school children whose parents do not have the opportunity to look after themselves, to have real contact with the teacher. It would be conceivable that they could come to school individually a few times a week, discuss individual tasks with the teacher in compliance with the AHAL guidelines, and thus receive support and feedback. In any case, it would be important to finally adapt the curriculum to the extraordinary situation as well as the specifications for performance measurement and the creation of certificates. With clear, reduced guidelines, a lot of calm could be brought to the schools.