Stakes, and not the kind that you kill vampires with. Stakes; as in a bet or wager. At the onset of school closures in March due to the pandemic most of us were moved to low stakes with regard to our teaching and learning. At the time, the high stakes at my school is that the teachers who were willing to work on campus during the shut down were rewarded. The one's who were not, we're discarded from their jobs. Literally.
The school that I taught at was a rural school in California. Most of my students did not have internet access. Although, they had phone access. The school did not provide laptops to the students until a month after the pandemic. When they did they only provided them to 3-5 and my K-2 students were without computers. Without connection. We were told also to make learning packets (a.k.a. busy packets).
As far as online learning, we were low stakes at the time. Teachers were told to explore. There were some admin pop ins, but it was a low stakes time.
Fast forward to this fall, it is now high stakes again! A lot of my friends are saying this as well.
This year, I am teaching at a virtual school. The high stakes at my job are the attendance and engagement. At teacher meetings and via emails all the teachers' data anaclitics are sent. Every teacher sees each others attendance and the percentage of time that students attend their classes.
It reminds me of when I first started teaching in 2003. Our principal posted all the teachers' standardized tests scores for our classes on the overhead projector at faculty meetings. He was an awesome principal, however, I am not really quite sure why he broadcasted our classroom scores. For the teachers who didn't show student growth, they felt embarrassed and shamed. I am not sure if the district office was pressuring him to share out our students scores with teacher names attached. It left many teachers dejected. Even if one's student growth scores were good, to see some our colleagues dispirited was hard for us. We were a team.
Fast forward, with at my new school, we are calling parents about attendance. During the pandemic and the wild fires, there have been a lot of absences. We try to make our lessons as engaging as possible. As teachers, we are still trying our best to encourage our students to attend live sessions. All the sessions are recorded so that students can watch the class session video as well. But there is pressure to have students attend the live sessions. Percentages are discussed at our meeting as that is one of our school goals to increase attendance. How do we as teachers who want to show good attendance and also compassion for struggling families balance it all?