What We’re Learning from eLearning – Stories

In this season, parents and teachers find ourselves interrelated and collaborating in all-new ways, as students learn remotely.  The Learn Forward blog sits in the intersection between parents and teachers, joining us at the Table of Learning together.

I’d like to share some stories illustrating what we’re learning in our eLearning experience.  I trust these stories are both inspirational and actionable.

Essentialism of Attachment

Students love to connect with teachers they trust.

We had an alumni student decide the night before eLearning opened to return to our community after attending elsewhere for the last two terms.  The reason he returned:  the teachers.  In the first few days, his parents found a new student, a young man who was focused, eager, and disciplined.  His parents each emailed me within a week to say, “The transformation was due to the teachers!”

This remote learning experiment is working because of the strong relationships between the teacher and the student.  The teacher provides some incentive and accountability.

I love seeing the personalities of the teachers coming through in their delivery of the experience.  For instance, our Grade 5 teacher had the students writing about their spring break, entitled “Coronication.”

What incredible professionals to keep showing up through tremendous change for the sake of the students!  Truly, the sanctity of the teacher-student relationship can never be underestimated.

How can we all lean into the power of the teacher-student relationship, even remotely?

The Yearning of a Mother

Every family has to design based on their values and unique situation.

This week, I heard from a mother of young children.  Amidst her overwhelm, deep wisdom was present.  I was truly impressed.  She knew she wanted to:

  • be present not harried.
  • be outside more.
  • ensure her toddler kept a routine.
  • design for her children.
  • intentionally support her school-aged children with the ‘hard things.’

These yearnings were perfect!  All I had to say was, “Follow your heart!  Your family values will serve you.”

The yearnings of our parents’ hearts are sacred and should guide this journey.  How can we communicate our trust in them?

Place-based Learning

Scott Sampson, CEO of Vancouver’s Science world and paleontologist describes that he grew up learning to love the outdoors in his neighbourhood.  In his recent TedTalk and blog post, he encourages us to notice nature during our walk around the block.

I love the image of the ant in the crack as a response to the provocation of Cracks in “Explore our World” (inspired by Keri Smith).

This is noticing, engaging, and wondering!

This story also illustrates some additional important learnings from our community.  In education, we’ve called this powerful pedagogy, “place-based learning.”

Let’s get outside and into our communities (safely) to learn about what’s all around us: the hawk taking flight, the squirrel in our yard, the bud on the branches, and the bird in the tree.

Managing for Screen-time

Parents must manage the screen time for agitation, sleep disruptions, and moodiness.  There is a remedy.  The tech community has known these best practices for a long time.  To balance screens, we must have:

  • High energy outdoor activity.
  • Connection with nature.
  • Sensory experiences.
  • Creative experiences.
  • Making experiences.

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Photo by Joseph Rosales on Unsplash

While my home is accommodating far more screen time than normal, it’s important that I am attuned to my child and monitoring for negative side-effects.  After all, I want her to have the counter-balances compensating for the screen-time in order to thrive.

This is even true for me!

So, what does health look like for your children and family as it pertains to balancing the new demands of virtual learning?

Follow the Curiosity of the Child

This creative moment invites us to give our children freedom and let them explore based on their personal interests and curiosities.  For example, a stick at the creek, a blank notebook for sketching, a camera for capturing, and great discussion questions at dinner are the ingredients of curiosity and meaning-making.  It’s messy and time-consuming and worth celebrating!

I wrote more about this last week in the Joy of Learning.

However,this transition will be more difficult, if your child doesn’t know how to learn on his/her own, manage time, play independently, or lean into intrinsic motivation.  Therein, lies the opportunity.  The solution is in following the curiosity of the child.  Boredom can be a key ingredient.

Let’s playfully ask our students:

  • What motivates you?
  • How can you become more focused?
  • What strategies can you use for time management?

Following and believing in the competency of the child offers a shift to the industrialized model of education.  It is human-centred.  Let’s bravely explore these possibilities during these weeks.

For the sake of the children,


P.S.  Many other educational leaders are writing about exploring a more human-centred approach during this season.

How the Coronavirus is Reshaping Education

Humanizing Online Learning – Edutopia

Leading Through and To a New Generation of Learning Systems