For the 2020-2021 school year, our local school district is operating a hybrid model. Our students are in class 50% of the time and participating in virtual learning 50% of the time. For our house, that means that my kids attend school Tuesday, Thursday, and every other Friday. This is taking place for only out junior and senior high kids. All elementary and early learnings students are still in class all day, every day. I am not certain what their regulations are, as I have a 7th grader at the junior high, and a freshman and junior at the senior high.
Mixed between them all, we have some depression, anxiety, ADHD, and typical teenage-ness. All with varied learning styles. The time at home was difficult, and our kids desperately needed some normalcy in their lives.
It should be noted that prior to last spring when everyone came home and never left, I was already feeling some disillusionment with the standard cookie-cutter school day. It does not work for all kids, and the stress that they experience often affects their mental well-being.
Enter hybrid learning!
Below are my observations so far, in no particular order. It is important to note that my kids split time between my home and their dad’s and we have both experienced the same benefits:
- Smaller class sizes. Science has told us for years that smaller class sizes lead to greater understanding for students. Splitting the classes has led to naturally smaller classes, some with as few as 6 students. This means the kids are able to have a personal interaction with the teacher to ensure they grasp the topic at hand.
- More lesson time. Along with the smaller classes, it seems that the teachers are able to go more in-depth on a subject, with a full class period devoted to instruction.
- Learning how to search. We have seen the in-class days being full of instruction, and the home days being used for work. One example that I will use is my daughter’s calculus teacher will include a brief video recapping the lesson, and links to where the students can find more information if they need it. I am seeing this as an incredibly useful skill. As adults at work or in college, we need to be able to find answers when we need them. This process is teaching them to be independent and seek answers.
- Time management. In the real world, whether college or the workforce, our professors and bosses do not give us an assignment then stand over us to watch us do it. The expectation is given and needs to be met. The students are learning the value of prioritizing their time, completing their tasks, and working independently.
- Emotional and mental relief. I am seeing first hand how stressed the students were before. With the hybrid model, they are able to rest, take a break, and still complete their work. I have seen my children’s mental health improve. I was concerned about my youngest moving to middle school due to social issues, and he has done so with no issues. A side effect of the smaller class sizes is that there are fewer students in the hallways. I feel that many junior high “bullies” feel emboldened by the number of students in the hallways and the ability to not be caught. Having less traffic makes everyone more visible, removing that anonymity.
- Independence. I am not a helicopter parent. I am aware that some on various social media platforms are vocalizing the amount of time that the parents are spending “working on homework” each night. I am spending zero time. My children, and most their ages, are capable of answering emails, following directions, and completing their assignments. This may just be the model to help parents understand who is supposed to be completing the assignment.
- Technology savvy. The world we live in is never going to be without tech. In the past few weeks, I have watched my kids learn how to record a video on their phone, share it from one google account to their school account, and share with their teacher. They are searching browsers when needed, answering emails, and keeping track of various information. These are all skills they will use post HS and are valuable in this world. They are learning to type, email etiquette, and more.
Of course, there are growing pains, and everyone is learning together, but that is another lesson for them, how to adapt and change a plan when needed. I am a huge fan of the hybrid model, and I would advocate keeping it in place for all 7-12 students, even after the pandemic is declared over.
*I have also been in communication with our local school district administration and have provided them the above list as feedback on the year so far.
What have you seen in your homes?