School Is In Session
By far, the year 2020 has felt like a “real-life” depiction of the hit Netflix series “Stranger Things.” Each day is filled with so much uncertainty. Mysteries continue to unfold as a lethal virus continues to upset the normal pattern of life. Even more so, navigating the challenges associated with a virtual school year has been very “strange.” Google classroom has become a staple in most education-centered households. The technology that gives power to Google Classroom is truly astounding. However, the virtual tool is still a far cry from the advantages of “in-person” learning. But, as they say in show business “the show must go on.” As a fellow pioneering virtual parent, I have developed a short list of tips to help you better navigate the world of distant learning.
Lights, Camera, Action
One of the biggest challenges I have personally encountered with Google Classroom is my daughter’s visibility. My daughter has a very rich melanated complexion. On bright sunny days you can almost see small shimmering particles when sunlight reflects off her beautiful brown skin. She truly is a magical sight to behold. So, when I noticed her teacher was failing to recognize her as she was actively participating by rising her hand, I became concerned. My daughter uses a chrome book in order to connect to her Google Classroom. The web-cam built into the device is sufficient but not the sharpest technology. Therefore, I decided to update the lighting in our home, specifically around her desk area. When she is connected to class we use ceiling lights, floor laps and a high resolution LED laptop lamp. The lamp actually has a built in USB cord so we just plug it into the laptop.
Arrive To Class Early
In order to get the most out of Google Classroom, get to class early. Henceforth, if class starts at 9am you should be inside the class by 8:45am. Why, you ask? Well, the the answer is quite simple. The teacher can only see the first nine students while she is presenting. So if you have a class size of fifteen students, nine children are (the first nine to enter the meet) visible at any given time. However, if the teacher switches from presenting then she can see the entire class but the students cannot see her presentation. In this scenario, we are assuming the teacher only has one monitor, i.e. her laptop. Now if the teacher has access to another monitor, than problem solved. She can present on one monitor and keep a close watch on her class with the second monitor.
Use Natural Light
To get the most out of Google Classroom, make sure the back of your laptop is facing a window. Natural light increases visibility. Also, having your child sit with her back to a light colored wall helps with visibility. Never hesitate to bring the issue to the attention of the teacher.
I must admit, my heart would sink as I witnessed my little’s ones raised hand go unrecognized. I felt frustrated by the fact, the teacher was quicker to acknowledge fairer skinned children because they are easier to see on camera. I told the teacher straight up, I do not think your actions are racially motivated. In fact, I told her she was an amazing educator but she may have a problem with her visual acuity. Was I wrong? Of course not. Positive reinforcement is an integral part of education. It also helps to build confidence. So if my child is not being acknowledge than she is not learning. Watching my baby try so hard everyday really motivated me reach out to the school’s principle. After I made my concerns known to the principle, “stranger things” began to change. My daughter is acknowledged more often and excited about “computer school.”
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