The return in September will not be a simple operation
The return in September will be certain, indeed likely. Everything will depend on the epidemiological situation. The uncertain situation is confirmed by the proposition of the three scenarios hypothesized by the Minister Azzolina: ” the best is to return to maximum normalcy as we have always known it. Or it may be that the coronavirus is there but that it is not aggressive, then in that case the return to class will be in small groups: we can then predict one half in presence and one half at a distance. The third is from a very aggressive coronavirus, it is the one that nobody hopes for. “
We think about the second scenario limited to the first cycle. From an organizational point of view it will not be simple. In broad terms we know a lot: small groups, staggered entrances and exits, use of internal spaces and structures present in the territory …
Unfortunately, the ads have to deal with the reality not the one imagined, but real. A survey published by the CISL-school presents a not encouraging picture, highlighting the great difficulties that schools together with local authorities will have to face in the summer months to ensure a safe and efficient restart. We read on the union website: “From what the 3,500 responses to our questionnaire tell us – says the general secretary of the CISL School – the capacity of our classrooms allows us to host safely, that is, by applying the criteria of distance between the desks, less than ten students in 32% of cases, and a number between 10 and 15 in 52.8%. Only a small percentage of the classrooms could accommodate a larger number. ” Hence the need, often indicated as a possible solution, to be able to use alternative spaces to classrooms, outdoors or indoors. But even in this case the chances do not seem many: “The possibility of using alternative outdoor spaces to the classroom is limited to less than half of our schools (48%), a fifth of which do not have this possibility (21.5%) , or can have it only for a minimal part of its buildings (30.48%). If you then thought of remodeling classroom spaces for different purposes, things would not be better: impossible to do it with canteens in 75% of cases, it is a little better for gyms, where there are, but the practicability of this solution does not reach 40%. Only 26% of schools have large spaces such as lecture halls or theaters.
As for the structures, and regardless of the state of the buildings, it emerges that almost 20% of the same does not have the possibility of using the access and exit gates separately “.
The problem of over 55 and chicken coop classes
Another problem is the age of the teachers. It reads on Orizzontescuola.it“In the school there are more than 171,000 teachers out of 730,000 who are over 60 years old: it is staff at risk and therefore we are concerned that there are no further risks of fueling a return infection in September. It is desirable that the Administration, in these cases, gives the possibility to these teachers to be able to request temporary unsuitability for the service for health reasons.
To this we must add that the Usr, who have no function of changing the norm, but only of administering it, have formed new chicken coop classes (a.s. 2020-21) for up to 34 students, also derived from the merger of two already existing groups. The confirmation of the chicken coop classes undoubtedly complicates the operation of dividing into small groups.
Obviously, the number of resources, limited to the problem of class overcrowding, will not be limited to a few thousand. The deputy secretary of the ANIEF union recently said: “sat least 120 thousand more teachers would be needed and only in this way could we say that we have solved the problem of chicken coop classes throughout Italy, so much felt by the current minister of education “
In September there is a risk of great disorganization
Many teachers have expressed their opposition to continue distance learning for next year as well. Surely this will be the case for the secondary school. At least that’s the intention of the government. For the first cycle, on the other hand, it is intended to start again with face-to-face teaching.
The risk is to arrive in September not knowing what to do, in a condition of great disorganization. From Ravenna comes the first confirmation of a suffering linked to school staff, which may concern other local realities in finding resources and structures as well.
It reads on the portal of the Corriere Romagna: ” We are very worried – comments the provincial secretary general of the Flc CGIL, Marcella D’Angelo – the numbers that they delivered to us from the school office, do not ensure safety conditions for the start of the next school year. The staff that was granted to our province by the Ministry is in fact almost identical to that of the current year, therefore in a pre-covid situation. And if it has been on the verge of sufficient for the current school year, it becomes dramatically inadequate for the next. With these numbers, security and distance are a utopia. Not taking into account the failed students, we will have borderline cases for overcrowding of the classrooms since primary school to end up in secondary school. ”
The solution that can reduce organizational complexity is called mixed education
We will have to go back to school. The resumption of lessons will be a categorical imperative and perhaps will represent the most important signal of a return to a normality that cannot be the one that preceded the end of February-beginning of March, as it will be necessary to learn to live with Covid-19, until a vaccine will be available.
So attention cannot be concentrated only on the return, but must also pay attention to the conditions on safety and the best solutions to avoid a system in disarray, at the mercy of disorganization.
In my opinion, a solution for the first cycle school will be represented by mixed teaching or blended mode (different from Dad). The solution has educational, but also organizational advantages: reduction of hours in attendance, therefore less pressure on physical school, declined in a lesser effort to find different spaces and structures.
Let’s focus, however, on many benefits of virtual teaching practice and how this can improve the quality of the teaching process. Serious reflection, however, requires scientific research. At the moment the only one known is “Emotion Revolution: Emotions and Distance Learning during the Covid-19 “emergency, conducted by Microsoft Italy with the contribution of PerLAB and Wattajob, where obviously the positive aspects are enhanced. It is desirable that research will be produced shortly by entities or companies not directly involved in digital and that highlight the contributions to training (there certainly have been) and the problems.
Many critical remarks on Dad
Pending this research it is possible to identify some problems that have highlighted some critical issues that are difficult to refute. I refer to the problems with which the network is maintained and in particular the drop in connection speeds in the home. To this must be added the type of connection and the availability of devices that are not always adequate and the insufficient technical-IT knowledge of students or families.
Without forgetting the excessive intermediation of the parents who made, especially the primary school pupils, less autonomous in the teaching / learning process. This review concludes with the criticism that concerned the relationship inevitably different from the physical one. The latter undoubtedly is of absolute importance especially for children in kindergarten and primary school.
Obviously where Dad saw the migration of the whole class into the virtual in synchronous work mode (online chicken coop class), also favored by some “environments” (Meet, Zoom, Skype) without organizing meetings in small groups, all the problems teaching, also related to personalization and relationship have expanded.
However, there are many advantages to an expansion of the teaching / learning process in the virtual world
Other findings need further study. Nobody intends to leave only with Dad. The solution represented the best response that the institution could give in an emergency situation. It was not possible to draw on a previous patrimony, therefore we proceeded by trying, discarding, identifying and combining among them methodological and operational solutions deemed more effective.
Digital is and remains a neutral tool (same speech for face-to-face teaching), does not call ipso facto a specific approach or methodology, It can be used almost passively (an example le Lim, intended as a video projection of content taken from Youtube) or activating methodologies aimed at the significant construction of knowledge (Ausubel). It is the teacher who can assign him a teaching license, enriching him with his professional knowledge and skills, which however need to be adapted to a context that can never transfer all the physicality present in face-to-face teaching.
In September, if the virus remains dormant, the online teaching practice can be repeated for six to eight hours a week with teachers over 55, alongside that in attendance. A could be proposed template, where the pupil learns in class, through the teacher who in this way can manage the learning process almost entirely (structuring, timing, expansion and control) freeing then the pupil or student online. Here he can become the master of his learning, choosing times, solutions, resources, characterized by slowing down, reflection and continuous integration. Obviously this lavorone need for self-regulation supports that recall metacognition. All of this can be done by starting gradually from the first primary class.
With the necessary adjustments, starting from a lower number of hours, the blended mode can also be activated in the last year of kindergarten. Many nursery schools online offer ideas and solutions for online education.
So the blended solution is perfectly compatible with a school that will have to reconfigure itself from an organizational point of view. But this cannot be the main reason for a didactic change with the proposition of blended teaching. We need to be resilient: to seize an opportunity for growth in the crisis (G. Galilei, W Churchill). The start of the new school year not with Dad, but with the mixed mode would allow the school system to remain an active protagonist in the process of advancement of online in offline, inevitable according to the philosopher L. Floridi who coined the term onlife, enriching the virtual with a pedagogical profile, the only one that can free it from that instrumentality often an end in itself, imposed by the market.