NancyOnNorwalk recently asked Norwalk Federation of Teachers President Mary Yordon for her opinion on the “distance learning” now being conducted by Norwalk Public Schools. This is her response.
The Norwalk Federation of Teachers leadership is proud of the work that Norwalk Public Schools is doing in distance learning. Norwalk is very well positioned compared to many other districts in the state. Teachers everywhere are stepping up to the needs of the students during this time.
Some districts are starting to create the kind of environment of tech skills and access for students that we had going into this crisis. Teachers here didn’t miss a day of work, but others needed time to regroup. Our head start is due to several years of increasing the number of Chromebooks and other machines, while slowly building tech skills and an infrastructure of tech for learning and teaching.
The Dalio Foundation, the Norwalk Education Foundation, Norwalk ACTS and other community partners, along with every taxpayer and the entire team of educators here in Norwalk have all contributed in various ways to bring us to where we are now, maintaining a continuity of instruction for our students. We celebrate the efforts of parents and guardians who are now at the sides of students making learning possible.
Norwalk Federation of Teachers members aren’t necessarily all familiar with the tools needed in this environment, but we are all committed to trying to increase our expertise. Our administrators, Central Office, and State officials are doing what is possible to provide support for the most part. We have been trying to increase the communication and collaboration between district officials and the union, and trying to work out details without drama, grievances, and other actions that jeopardize our focus on our students.
You may ask, are the kids learning as best as possible? Most kids are spending time in productive, educational pursuits, but it is hard to generalize. We’ve all heard the phrase, “It takes a village.” All across Connecticut certified staff are moving heaven and earth to be part of the virtual village that supports the parents and guardians of some of our more vulnerable young students.
For many students, it is painful to see education boiled down to a website or a log-in screen, and we are trying to make it better than that. Education should include more meaningful interactions with peers and educators than is currently possible in a virtual learning environment, but we are all doing the best we can under the circumstances. Attendance is high for many reasons. Among the reasons is that our students are looking for the supportive social and educational connections they need.
We’ve had a good seven months of solid instruction that preceded the crisis. This is not a lost year. I believe our students will be well positioned to make their next moves, all things considered.