• Nick Romano, Graduate Fellow

K-12 Voices: The Good, The Bad, and The Stressed

Updated: Dec 17, 2020

I recently had the opportunity to meet with Mike Afdahl, technology service coordinator in North West Georgia’s Regional Educational Service Agency (RESA). Mike’s work has given him a chance to examine different types of learning over the years and see the effectiveness of various types of instruction. With the first semester of the 2020 school year nearing its end, we examined the results of the hybrid school semester so far.

MIXED SUCCESS IN CLASSROOMS During the interview, I asked Mike for his thoughts on the new teaching methods that are being utilized during the pandemic. He said there have been mixed results, with students who were top of the class before remaining successful, while a majority are doing about the same or worse than before. Most students are not fans of online education, with Mike reporting that only about 5% actually like or prefer attending school online. But given that teachers had an average of only two to four weeks to prepare and train for online instruction, it is unsurprising that online instruction is not as good as it could have potentially been.

PROS AND CONS One good thing, in Mike’s opinion, is that more teachers can now attend training because of the online format. That said, he acknowledged that the training is probably not as effective in its online form. Mike himself has grown to like the online format, although he says that the interaction and supervision elements of the in-person model encourage people to learn more than in an online environment.

HARD TIMES FOR TEACHERS Mike repeatedly expressed concern for teachers during this time. He stated that teachers are struggling, and they are worn out from this school year already. This is partly due to the little amount of preparation that they had for this year’s mixed-format teaching. The extra workload with no added support has put a lot of strain on them, and he said we need to find some way to ease their fatigue and give them encouragement to continue.

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