On My Soapbox: We’re having technical difficulties

The Modern School Teacher, school year 2020-2021, pandemic. distance learning, virtual learning, Zoom

This column represents the thoughts and opinions of Jason Hennington. This is NOT the opinion of the Taylor Press.

If anyone has watched the Taylor ISD school board meetings live stream on our Facebook page, I apologize that it kept dropping the signal. We have a hotspot that goes cold in the board room.

You can still hear most of the meeting and get the information provided. The school district also live steams the meetings. So, there are two ways to watch the meeting live and afterwards.

However, the technology doesn’t always cooperate. Not just for us, but for the district. There are sometimes technical issues with both streams, but you get what you need from them.

We have encountered the same problem with live streaming football games. The picture quality isn’t always the best, but it is good enough to see what’s happening and know which kid is scoring a touchdown or getting a tackle.

Aside from people – mostly from Lampasas – complaining about the camera angle, the football stream has gone over very well. But, like technology, it cannot be trusted 100%.

I said all of that to ask this, can we completely trust virtual instruction to educate children?

I completely understand the safety concerns and why people choose virtual learning. For some parents, it is the best way for their student to learn due to the pandemic.

Unfortunately, in Taylor the attendance numbers have dropped significantly, mostly because of students not logging in for virtual classes. Listening to the teachers at the most recent board meeting, they are overwhelmed with trying to teach the students who they see in person and the ones they are supposed to see online.

I feel sorry for those teachers because they are literally working night and day to provide instruction, yet students are not being educated. Not to the fault of the teachers, but because there is not a specific way to hold these students accountable.

From the way it sounded Monday night, students and parents will be held accountable moving forward, and students will be held back as if they were in school.

I think the idea of bringing back students who are failing is a step in the right direction. I also don’t think that will happen any time soon. At the elementary level teachers will be designated to virtual only, which is another step in the right direction. If that is implemented throughout the entire district, the school will be walking in the right direction.

We can’t completely rely on virtual learning because students aren’t showing up. If teachers have to start failing students and they get held back, Taylor will either lose all state funding or become a super powerhouse in sports.

I’m going to get off my soapbox now and go watch the Redsk . . . I mean Washington beat up on the Cowgirls.

“Any virtual community that works, works because people put in some time.”

- Howard Rheingold

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