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April 2021 - Year 23 - Issue 2

ISSN 1755-9715

Remote Teaching, a Brave New World, and an Amber Restorative

Terence (Terry) McLean teaches English as an Additional language (EAL) at MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta. Email: mcleant@macewan.ca

https://roam.macewan.ca/islandora/object/person:115

 

Many lives have been negatively affected by the dastardly global pandemic, and my heart goes out to all who have suffered physically, psychologically, emotionally, and financially. These dire times have brought difficulties beyond belief. Nevertheless, teaching and learning continue, and we must all adapt.

Now, I certainly do not want to sound glib in these troublesome times, but Lord love a duck. Thanks, COVID-19. Right after eschewing my inner Luddite while scrambling to remotely teach my English as an Additional Language (EAL) 2020 winter term courses, I found myself fretting as I made the foray into more remote teaching in the spring/summer/fall terms. If I may borrow from the sentiments of the inimitable PG Wodehouse: if not completely disgruntled, I was certainly far from gruntled.

Zoom to the present. Déjà vu all over again, conditions led to continued remote teaching right through winter 2021. Winter is coming brought a whole new feeling. Well, been there, done that. The past year, though wickedly time-consuming, came and went relatively well. I adapted, students have been resilient, vaccines are trickling in, and the sun will shine another day, hopefully.

I have actually been using online platforms for blended teaching and learning for many years, and there are advantages to this approach. That said, if I had had my druthers last year, I would have been holding court in the classroom in a sequined bespoke hazmat suit. However, after completing a year’s worth of remote teaching, I now find myself rather liking certain aspects working from home, such as more time for grading and planning. I can get used to this brave new world.

Sure, fretting still rears its head, particularly for yours truly, who grew up in antiquity when tablets and cell phones were regarded as accoutrements for the likes of Spock or Ziggy Stardust. Alas, the days of calling Scotty to beam me up to get me out of a pickle are long gone.

But fret not. Times have changed: wired to the ears, students have game—they are tech savvy. Well, some students are perhaps still finding their game, but overall, teaching and learning can flourish given the proper support and a dash (or bucket) of patience. The good news is that as schools are going through change and turbulence, English language learners, who come from all over the world, are the epitome of endurance, especially many newcomers (to Canada) with families. They have already experienced upheaval and have overcome this cursed road bump. With their help, so will I. Moreover, my theory, which I will call my own, is that my technological tickle trunk will be even more jam-packed than the original.

It looks like most kids have returned or are heading back to the classroom soon, but many universities are looking at another online summer term. Moving forward, hybrid teaching and learning will become the norm, I believe. This can be a positive development if done with sufficient care and planning. I am looking forward to blending the flexibility of working from home with going to valuable weekly face-to-face meetings with student. It could be a win-win.

Enough gnashing of teeth. I have been online all day. Time for a break and an amber restorative (a drop of whisky - for medicinal purposes, of course).

 

Cheers

Tagged Voices 
  • Human Stories
    Carol Griffiths, New Zealand

  • Remote Teaching, a Brave New World, and an Amber Restorative
    Terence McLean, Canada

  • Teachers Don’t Only Teach! Reflections on Teaching a SEN Student
    Mohammad Hosam Alnahas, Qatar