Monday, April 20, 2020

Back On Distance Learning And Summer School,

Sunset over Jerusalem
Yesterday, after a major meltdown, I'd had it with distance learning. But DD is far more conscientious than I am about her school work and she wasn't happy about giving up. Thankfully another mother from our class came to our rescue. Her child, also an English speaker, wasn't into reading the long texts in Hebrew, so she has been reading them with him and she invited DD to join them via video call.

This morning they had sport, maths, Hebrew (in which she learned to work the system and managed to do the activity without reading the lesson), and History. So she joined her friend for History and it was fantastic. She finished it and I've not seen her that relaxed and happy since before the Pesach holidays. Even during the holiday she was anxious about going back to distance learning. I won't mention names but Friend's Mother, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

You'll notice that I'm using the phrase distance learning today, instead of home schooling. It was rightly pointed out to me that Home Schooling is a thing and this isn't it. I knew that but I used the phrase carelessly yesterday because it described our situation. However, we are not Home Schooling, we are School Schooling without the teachers present.

Which brings me to the enormous facebook fracas that erupted yesterday after a disastrous TV interview with Yaffa Ben-David, the head of one of the Teacher's Unions in Israel. She is probably the most hated woman in Israel atm and all because she didn't handle the interview well.

The problem is twofold:

1. Distance learning, 
We're trying to do distance learning so that the children keep up with some education and not feel so isolated. Also it's a good idea to have an outside adult in contact with every child under these lockdown conditions. Unfortunately, the teachers are learning to do this on the fly. Whilst there are a lot of instructional meetings via zoom and sharing of information and resources, it's all a bit hit and miss. It's being refined day by day and the teachers are putting in hours and hours of work to make it all happen, plan lessons, give individual feedback, be available and to trouble shoot.

It's a herculean task and they are doing it while trying to supervise their own children at home with different school schedules and often limited screen and internet access. Despite all this, there is a lot of frustration among parents who also need to work on the family computer and have a number of children who cannot work alone, and all need the computer or phone for a zoom lesson at the same time, etc...

For all these reasons the directive is that these online lessons are not compulsory and everyone should do as much as they can.

2. Summer School
In order to recover some of the economy, if we are out of isolation by the summer, we need the children to be in school so that parents can work. Some people are saying that the teachers are off school now so they should make up the hours in the summer. Excuse me? You may not like the distance learning but  the teachers are working very hard to make it happen and it is a lifeline for some families and children.

Ben-David argued that the teachers will not be working an extra 6 weeks with no pay. This created an uproar mainly with the response that the teachers are paid for 12 months a year but only work 10 months, so they need to forgo their ridiculous amount of holiday and do their bit to help to help the nation.

There are three points to make here.
A, the teachers are not paid for 12 months of the year. Many years ago their 10 months of salary was spread over 12 payments to help them budget better. Pay in July and August is for work done from September till June.

B, I don't think Ben-David could have argued anything else, she was just doing her job which is to protect the teachers.

C, No one has asked the teachers. Most of the jobs that teachers pick up over the summer break to make up the shortfall in their salaries, will not be available this year. If you asked the teachers to volunteer over the summer I suspect that most of them would say yes. What they object to is the assumption that they must pay back for the years of shirking over July and August. That they are paid anyway so they owe the country to work.

Teachers are willing to do their bit, as they have been doing and will continue to do through the many hours it takes to organize and execute distance learning. All they ask is some respect and acknowledgment. If you want them to volunteer over the summer to help the nation get back on its feet, call a spade a spade and ask them to volunteer. And don't forget to thank them afterwards.


  1. I completely agree with all the points she makes - and thank you for explaining the pay over 12 months situation - friends who are teachers are always having to explain this to people as their union (which is very powerful) makes a piss poor job of making this clear to people.

    Glad to hear that it was a better day.

    PS - our Provincial Govt. is looking to get iPads to poorer students who otherwise may not have proper access from home. (We are expecting a second wave come the late Fall so they want to be prepared for a second lockdown).

    1. I'm also hearing about this second wave thing. Very scary and just when things seemed to be easing off a bit. Let's hope there'll be a measure of immunity if a second wave occurs. Take care Margie. xxx

  2. Glad to hear the video call with your friend and her son worked for DD. Distance learning is indeed the right term and it is not at all easy. I always prefer face to face even as an adult. It made me chuckle (ironically) that yet again people are making decisions and no-one is asking those who it impacts what they think! Mich x

    1. Thanks Mich. My friend is really helping DD. We can't thank her enough. Xx