We asked parents to share their thoughts about their home learning experience from March – June 2020, and to frame their responses around the following questions:
Here is some of the feedback from parents so far. If you’d like to share your feedback, please do so here
- Do you feel students had enough teacher led learning each week?
- How did your child respond to/participate in any of the learning provided?
- What were some of the challenges or obstacles?
Here is some of the feedback from parents so far. If you’d like to share your feedback, please do so here
1. There was NO WHERE NEAR enough teacher led learning! My child in elementary got 30 minutes once a day conversing about what they did the previous day, and my child in elementary got 30 minutes once a week which was the hugest disappointment.
PARENTS CANNOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR TEACHING THE NEW CONCEPT!!!! All we can do is keep up with what they’ve already learned
Recommendation: What is needed is a check in every morning to TEACH new concepts/new material and then assign the work for the day, followed by a check in every afternoon to show you have completed the work and go over mistakes.
The teacher should be in a classroom in front of a white board and the kids should not be able to see each other on video while the teaching is happening.
2. The unstructured nature of the video calls made my children want to skip them. They didn’t have to show any work, just talk about what they did that day.
- All the different passwords and logins on different sites to find the work/videos which were all in different places...seesaw/google classroom/je lis je lis/cbc jeunesse, etc.
- all the printing, screen shots, emailing back and forth.
- Too many kids on one video call - kids shouldn’t be able to see each other
- trying to DO MY ACTUAL Job, the teacher’s job and be a parent/chef all day.
1. Do you feel that the students had enough teacher led learning each week? I had three kids doing online learning. My child in elementary had a lot of teacher-led learning (Google hangout sessions and video lessons), but my kids in junior high were given assignments and asked to lead their own learning. Any Fall plan needs to include lessons taught by teachers, practice on their own, and real feedback and evaluation. It should be distance learning... not homeschooling.
2. How did your child respond to/participate in any of the learning provided? My three kids did everything that was asked of them. Direct contact with teachers was extremely helpful in keeping the kids engaged and motivated. Some teachers were very hands-on, but others were not.
3. What were some of the challenges or obstacles? Not getting feedback was extremely challenging. The kids quickly learned that it didn't really matter how much effort they put into their work. I feel it is important to not penalize the kids that aren't able to complete the work, but it is also important to give feedback and marks to the kids that are completing the work. Juggling working from home with homeschooling three kids (with three different curriculums) was extremely challenging too.
1. Do you feel that the students had enough teacher led learning each week? No! My daughter who just completed Grade 9, had very little teacher led learning. 90% of the time she was assigned work via email, then asked to complete it with no actual time spent teaching. So, basically my daughter was on her own. We had to pay for a tutor to teach her, especially mathematics.
2. How did your child respond to/participate in any of the learning provided? My child is normally very engaged at school. She enjoys contributing to class discussions. Because so few of her teachers utilized video conference tools, she spent time alone in her room completing her tasks. This resulted in a decrease in her confidence and increased her anxiety. She completed her assigned projects and submitted them online but with little or no feedback she had no idea how she was doing. Children need positive reinforcement from teachers to stay motived.
3. What were some of the challenges or obstacles? I think the biggest obstacle was the teachers lack of interest in holding live Zoom classes. Some of her teachers just said they don't like being on video or they "don't agree" with teaching online. It seems some teachers need to be forced to teach using video conference. I think during this time we have all had to do things we have not wanted to do. Without proper educational instruction our children are going to miss out on being properly educated by this province. I also feel that the school day should adhere to a regular schedule which would include all classes, a lunch break, tests, etc. to keep kids on track. Sleeping in until noon so that the day goes by faster is no way to live. My daughter wished that her teachers held classes so she had something to look forward.
Here is feedback from a mom of three children in HRCE grades 4, 6, and 9.
1. Do you feel that the students had enough teacher led learning each week? For junior high yes in the midst of the pandemic and the rush of getting everything rolling but if that were to be the amount during a future shutdown then no...the work should be nearly the full day of classroom teaching/learning as in a regular school day. For both my children in elementary no. There was not enough work provided to keep them working for longer than about 30-45 minutes.
2. How did your child respond to/participate in any of the learning provided? For two of my children the work was provided in such a way that they could log into Google Classroom, start the work provided for that day, manage the work and have success. For one of my children the work was provided at the beginning of a five day period (not usually Monday) and included all the work for the week. This was quite overwhelming and as a result he did not often complete everything that was assigned for one day.
3. What were some of the challenges or obstacles? In my opinion some of the challenges of this learning was that there was no consistency of work. I feel that what a grade 6 student is doing in one school should be the same across every grade 6 school in the province and that is true for every grade. Is was, at this time, left up the each teacher to come up with inventive ways to challenge children online and some teacher were much better than others at that. There is already a well established curriculum in place as well as HRCE having math coaches and ELA teachers on top of the classroom teachers that could (for future online learning) lay out daily lessons and learning objectives that are consistent across the province for every grade, or at least elementary grades. It is provided on a daily basis and "submitted" daily so it is off of the current screen or to do list that each student would have (the very long to do list for the whole week was very overwhelming for my child). The government should right now be putting this all in place!! Roll-out ready for the first week of September.
My daughter (completed Grade 9) is self-directed. She seemed satisfied with her ability to reach teachers for assistance.
My son (completed Grade 11) found it confusing and he felt his teachers were not engaged. (He was not very engaged at all)
I personally don't think there will be in-person classes in September as a second wave is inevitable.
If they do, they will definitely need to stagger the day and I hope to provide a choice to students/parents
Not sure if this is the case, but I heard NF will have just elementary go back to school and high school will be virtual.
I spoke with a guidance counsellor for my son a few weeks ago and she assured me they were working on a plan and had intentions to be in the classroom in the fall.
I'm not sure if each school has to come up with their own plan (that is the approach the government is taking with businesses / industry sectors had to figure out their own plans) or if there is one plan for the province.
I hope the latter but am doubtful. I also hope they are creating a back-up plan for online learning. But... who knows?
My suggestion for online would be to offer one course at a time rather than overload the students with different google classrooms.
I think there would be a benefit to letting them concentrate on one subject, complete it and move on to the next.
Each day could include structured instruction time, individual learning time to complete lesson plans, with feedback and coaching from the teacher.
1. Do you feel that the students had enough teacher led learning each week? The teacher led learning was very minimal. It was less than 1 hour per week and lacked concept teaching. It was generally an opportunity to discuss the uploaded exercises that were to be completed. The actual quantity work provided was very low, quite simple in nature and it was a poor decision and a huge disservice to students to end this little amount of learning three weeks early. There is great concern on what concepts were not covered or barely touched on.
2. How did your child respond to/participate in any of the learning provided? Our children participated and completed all materials provided easily and in a very short amount of time. We felt is was necessary to expand their learning and purchased online resources to teach the curriculum concepts fully knowing limited practice and questions were be given. More instruction and additional resources were not provided.
3. What were some of the challenges or obstacles? The primary issue was HRCE was woefully underprepared for this level of disruption and it was not managed well. Additional resources and textbooks could have been easily scanned and loaded into the google sites. Going forward the province needs to invest in a true learning management system (LMS) and have teachers and administrators trained to use technology for teaching. Multiple learning modalities are imperative to create an active, engaging learning experience for students. Regular individual feedback to each student needs to occur via video chat a minimum of 15 minutes per week. Discussion boards are needed to link students to work together remotely. Learning needs to be in modules for students to self direct by reading and watching material prior to live classroom debate. Several live hours of class instruction and debate are needed daily as well as online evaluation quizzes and testing tools.
I have two children in the school system. One just finished her last year of Junior High (Gr 9), the other just finished his last year of elementary school (Gr 6). I was very disappointed with the level of engagement and education they received since the shut down in March 2020.
#1. Do you feel that the students had enough teacher led learning each week? No. For my Junior High student, there was very little expectations or requirements. Students could access their teacher for an hour once per day, but it was not mandatory and at this age, it would be seen as very "uncool" to do this, even for the ones who are more academically inclined. Therefore, the only interaction they had with teachers was through e-mail - with the large number of teachers at this age, this could sometimes be overwhelming. Some junior high students did absolutely no work and had no engagement with teachers since the shutdown.
For my elementary student, the teacher did a good job, but there was little social interaction. She posted daily work assignments that would be released once a day from Mon-Fri. Any students that did not keep up with their work could still submit any time until Sunday. She was also available online to answer questions. The teacher, however, had no "live" engagement with students until parents complained. Because of parent pressure, she did a few google hangouts with students near the end of the school year, which made it better. The turnout for these started out high (17 students) but got lower and lower each call (with less than 10 students attending by the end). My biggest complaint is that my son was done his work by 10am each day - there was clearly not enough work being given. He was not challenged at all.
I also do not understand why the school year had to end 3 weeks ahead of schedule. There was no good reason given as to why they could not continue to do schoolwork until the end of June. You could continue to teach and arrange for families to pick up their things.
#2. How did your child respond to/participate in any of the learning provided? My Junior High student really disliked online learning. Although, she completed all the assignments, she did not receive very much feedback or engagement from her teachers. There was little to no expectation or standards for these students.
My elementary school student didn't mind the online learning. He asked his teacher a lot of questions online, which she was always able to answer, but not in real time. She was sometimes slow in providing the necessary passwords required to login to various programs which caused some frustration.
#3. What were some of the challenges or obstacles? The lack of engagement from teachers was the biggest challenge. My children were quite good at learning independently, but there was not enough work given, zero expectations of the students, and very little to no social interactions with peers/teachers during the online learning. Everything seemed to be optional.
The other challenge was the lack of out of the box thinking from teachers to help make the best of the situation. Other Junior Highs provided online virtual orientations for students starting in the fall. Our school did not. The high school did not. Other schools also had regular online virtual sessions with teachers. Our schools did not (or not until parents complained). Other schools had virtual graduations. Ours did not. Our elementary school only decided to have a virtual closing ceremony for students after significant pressure from parents who also volunteered to make it happen - the teachers participated very reluctantly. There seemed to be a large discrepancy between schools and teachers on the quality of education and engagement. The inequity between schools is very disconcerting.
I wanted to share my concerns about the lack of communication surrounding the return to school in September.
Given the current circumstances, no one can predict what restrictions we may find ourselves under in September. I'm a self-employed parent with a flexible schedule yet I still found the pandemic education very stressful. So I’m sharing this especially because there are many families who have face even more challenges.
My care load included a set of in-laws in their 80s with very serious health conditions and care requirements in addition to my four-year-old and nine-year-old sons. About mid-April, I sent my son's fourth-grade teacher a note to say I would no longer be participating in the homeschooling routine. He requires a set of school provided adaptations that include constant supervision and prompts for him to complete tasks successfully. Again, there are lots of children higher needs but with my extra care load and only the weekly half-hour Google classroom session, it wasn't possible to provide adequate home education.
At worst, should the COVID-19 situation be similar to this spring, I may find myself with the same care load, facing the same homeschooling challenges. We would definitely need more teacher-led education and help to modify the classroom adaptations specific to our child to apply to a homeschooling scenario. I hope that this will not be the case but if it is parents and students need communication on what to expect so they can plan for a better set up in September. Even if there is a partial return to the class, parents need information so they can start planning.
Thank you for the opportunity to share our concerns and request clarity for the upcoming school year.
Thank you for taking the initiative to address the lack of communication around the hopeful return to school in the fall. I am a parent with children in the North end Halifax schools.
Do you feel that the students had enough teacher led learning each week? I think we were lucky, our children had about 1-2 hours of material a day assigned. Was it learning? Some new material but very little - but our experience was better than most. This is not why I'm unhappy with the teachers and government.
How did your child respond to/participate in any of the learning provided? It was extremely difficult to get our children to do their on line work. I work in healthcare so could only help with learning in the evening. My partner had to work from home and was able to support but was not the best parent suited to the job. Socially and mentally- I felt my children really suffered.
What upsets me is that there has been no effort to develop a plan, teach and support the teachers in upgrading their skills to enable true on line learning and to use this time to determine what families need technology and wifi support.
I come from a family of teachers but I work in healthcare. From day one, all healthcare employees were expected to put in a full day of work and adapt to the new way of working. Vacations were revoked and emergency measures put in place. I quickly learned new skills and adopted a new role. It seems prudent to have the HRSB use the existing time to help prepare staff in the ability to truly teach online and to develop plans for families that do not have access to technology.
Everyone is working hard, adapting their businesses and creating new protocols to ensure they meet the needs of the public while being safe. I’m sorry, but I have not seen any effort by the HRSB and teachers to address the challenges of COVID. Honestly, it feels like they were just given an extra 3 months of vacation – this is not a good look . We have a state of emergency – teachers and government should be hard at work preparing for the fall.
I'm writing to express my concern for the next school year. More specifically, I'm concerned it won't be much better than what was offered for the past 2.5 months. I'd like to know the HRCE / Department of Education is making a plan for better teaching next year, in whatever form that takes.
And, in addition to the teaching/learning aspect of school, I also want schools to do a better job of communicating with parents and creating a sense of community for students, even if students aren't physically in school. There was very little community engagement in the past months at my son’s school. Very few emails from Principals or VPs, and very few class meetings with teachers, and no small group work, etc. children need the social interaction of school, and there were almost no opportunities for face-to-face (online) interactions. Kids need human connection, a sense of school community, and mental stimulation, even if it is through a screen.
I understand there are privacy and equity issues with online communication, but now that you know what they are you have time to plan for them. I follow schools across Canada and some public schools are doing this well, so we know it can be done.
My concern is that September will arrive, and school will start late because you aren't prepared, teachers are still not able to use online teaching tools, some students will still not have access to computers, etc. and we're right back where we are now. And that’s unacceptable. You have had several months to plan for various scenarios.
Planning for September should have started in April so the proper resources could be put in place, and so parents know (basically) what to expect. Other provinces have produced a plan and have started to operationalize it, while Nova Scotia is still collecting feedback.
It's been months since the shutdown. By now, you should now know (basically) what the possible scenarios are for September. The reason the school year ended early was so they could plan for the fall. So what planning is being done now? Are all teachers being trained in online tools? Must they reach a certain level of mastery with it? Evidence tells us a second wave it is highly likely to occur, so I hope training is taking place now and teachers are well versed in online teaching.
Come September, a repeat of the past few months is unacceptable. You must do better. Our children deserve better.
I am writing this letter to express my concerns about schooling in September. We have all experienced a difficult time in the past several months. I think it would be best to let parents know more about what the plan is for the next school year as soon as possible because parents will have more time to prepare to support their children’ s education no matter in person or online. Meanwhile, children themselves also need to know what is going to be next because it will be helpful for their mental health. I still remember how shocked my children were when they knew they could not go to school after March break. As we know, advanced psychological preparation will be of great help to us when we face a big challenge. Children are more likely to accept a new style of learning when they know about it in advance.
My son who was in primary French immersion had a difficult time finishing his schoolwork every day from March to June. He received an e-learning schedule from his teacher bi-weekly, including songs, stories, math, and integrated learning. Even though my son’s teacher tried her best to make the schedule interesting, he still was not interested in learning French in this way. The reasons are as follows: Firstly, it was his first year to learn a new language, and even though there were many materials to read it was not sufficient enough for a beginner. A five year-old child will absorb language through the French environment, communication with teachers and class-mates, and participation in the activities rather than reading books or singing songs by themselves. Secondly, his teacher hosted one small group meeting once during this period. My son was expected to see his teacher and friends, but the effect of this meeting was far from expected. The quality of the WiFi was so poor that students could not hear clearly what the teacher said. Therefore, the little ones could not concentrate on listening. They felt so bored that they turned to play with their own toys or do something else. To be honest, my son lost his passion for learning online courses after one or two weeks. After being informed to pick up his items by the end of the school year, I found two French books which he borrowed from class. He wasn’t able to read them as fluently as before. The poor experience of e-learning from the past several months makes me worry about the plan for schooling next year. I appreciate what the HRCE and teachers did for our children, but please make a detailed and individualized plan for different levels and grades of students this time so that our little ones won’t be left behind too far.
We are facing unprecedented changes, everything is challenging for us. As just a mom with a hope for better education for my children, I’m eager to ap-peal to HRCE to enrich the content of online courses, prolong the interaction between students and their teacher, and motivate students to participate in those courses.
Overall, from my perspective, the online approach taken by the NS government was the right one. However, the experience for my children (grade) and us as parents was poor. There was little structure, lack of integration of curriculum, lack of consistency, and virtually no teacher to student interaction or support.
I also believe that the government should be in contact with parents on a much more frequent basis. As I hear from other provinces regarding their decision, I keep asking myself the question, “why haven’t we heard?”, “why can’t our province get ahead of this?”.
Mostly, we need a teacher / student relationship online. For example, as a university instructor teaching online, we don’t just place an assignment online for students to complete. We use all aspects of online teaching and facilitation: students working in groups online, relationship building, help resources, access to teachers, etc. I would like to see more of this if we are online in the future.
I am a parent of two elementary school-aged children in the French Immersion program, and I am also a school psychologist in private practice. If we continue with virtual teaching/home schooling in September, I have some suggestions that I’d like to pass along:
Children require more direct teaching from teachers. Professionally, I work with children who have significant learning disabilities and ADHD. These children are the ones who desperately need more direct instruction from teachers. They are at-risk for falling further and further behind their peers. Parents cannot be expected to teach their children, particularly when they are children with unique learning needs that are not easily met.
Professionally, I work with children on the autism spectrum. These families need to have the option for in-home support. Daily functioning is extremely challenging for many of these families.
At a minimum, French Immersion students should have regular virtual meets to communicate in French. Most French Immersion children are in English speaking families. The exposure to French at home has been minimal for my children and non-existent for most.
We need a plan ready for the beginning of September. Teachers and administrators have months to prepare for this. There is no excuse for a delayed start to the school year – virtually or in-person. We need people getting the schools ready, preparing the materials, thinking through and sharing lesson plans. As they say, all hands on deck, to get these kids in a better place for learning.
My son has not started school yet. He is 5 years old and was to start in September. He has autism and I would like to know what the government will do for children with special needs? Children like my son are not being allowed to have EIBI program extended and are giving them to start school unprepared. I hope the government has something in their plan to address this. With all of these children starting not being able to complete the program it will now fall on the school and they will require more resources.
I keep saying, it’s sad that so many businesses are able to come up with plans to open as they are losing money, but the government, who should have been working on a plan A, B, C, and all the way through Z for the past 4 months, does nothing and leaves us parents in the dark until the very last moment. Because of the late planning my son will not be attending in the fall. He requires extra resources and without the government presenting a plan in sufficient time I do not feel comfortable sending him.