One ethical issue of using technology in the classroom that is affecting my students and me (and probably almost every teacher on the planet right now) is limited or no access to technology. We are in unprecedented times right now and we are seeing a huge gap in the digital and socio-economic divide. I am in a classroom of only 12 students, but almost half of my students do not have a computer at home. Most of my students have other types of technology at home, however, some of the supplemental work we are to provide is easier or requires a computer/chromebook. I completely agree with Trevor’s comment about how challenging moving into this new type of classroom has been. I have always used technology in my classroom, and I felt like I had enough knowledge to make of a go of it, but it has been very difficult and stressful for me and my teaching partner. I think the hardest part for both of us right now is the stress that this is placing on our students, and I know that there are many students across Saskatchewan that are feeling the same.
I know I have mentioned it before, but I teach in the Quiet Elementary classroom, which mean all of our students are diagnosed with anxiety and/or other mental health conditions. Every single one of our students have grown immensely after moving into our program, as it is an environment that was created to support them. A large majority of the time that we spend with our students is supporting their mental and emotional well-being, so they are able to complete academic tasks. The school closures and move to distance education has been very difficult for our students and their families.
We have been using Seesaw to communicate with our students and parents/guardians and to provide them with supplemental academic tasks. However, many of our students are not able to self-regulate and manage their anxiety while in the home setting, so they are unable to complete the work. Like I said earlier, there are also some families that do not have technology in the house. We tried to have a Google Meet video chat with the class today and had four students join the chat. It was so good to see them all and it felt just like the classroom (me talking and them staring at me with blank looks). I’m hoping that over the next couple of weeks we are going to be able to get everyone in a group video chat, but I don’t know if that is going to happen. We have a few students that do not feel comfortable with their video popping up for everyone to see, so I am going to try to work with them to get them to join the chat (even if it is just the audio!) Anyone have any other ideas for students that feel self-conscious about being a video chat?