As of yesterday, the overly-large school district has all it’s classrooms open for live instruction. Sort of.
Some students are in face-to-face classes while some are still attending class online. Parents have the option to choose and, according to one report in the Post, only about 47% of kids are currently in the live classrooms. As for the teachers, Fairfax is using something called “concurrent instruction” to cover all the bases.
The concept, as I understand it, has a teacher in a classroom providing instruction to an in-person group of students while doing the same for another group online. In some places it’s called “hybrid” teaching and I’ve seen the term “hy-flex”, for hybrid flexible, used.
Whatever you call it, this is the absolute worst idea that has developed as a result of pandemic schooling.
Trying to teach both live and online at the same time, and provide the same quality of instruction for both groups, is difficult at best. One group of students is going to get the short end of the deal, and I’m betting that will usually be the kids at home.
Let’s face it, the skillset for instructing online is very different from that of working with students in a face-to-face situation. I know many educators learned that lesson very quickly last spring as they were forced to adapt to the new setting. But the kids had to adapt as well since learning online is also a different experience.
So, if concurrent instruction is a poor experience for both teachers and students, who does it benefit?
Administrators, of course.
The process of building a schedule that incorporates both face-to-face and online students is far easier if you can just do what you’ve always done. Which is to create a group of kids who are about the same age, or at the secondary level, who are taking the same subject and assign it to an appropriate teacher.
Trying to form one class that’s attending in-person and one that will attend at home, takes more work, especially when you’re almost three-quarters of the way through the academic year and already have a schedule in place. It all gets more complex if a parent later changes their mind and wants their child to switch to the other format.
Nope. It’s much easier for administrators to keep the same schedule they already have in place for this academic year and expect teachers to learn how to instruct using two very different formats.
I’ve read and heard some speculation that “concurrent instruction” might be a format that schools will want to keep after the pandemic ends. Something about how it would give students “choices”.
Kids should certainly have the option to do their schooling online. However, this format is a very bad idea that must be buried when this crisis is past.
The image is a screenshot from a video on the Fairfax website that explains and illustrates the concept of concurrent instruction as applied in the district.