What We CAN Do: Building a Virtual Community
How can staying farther apart bring us closer together? Even in these challenging times, the WIDA asset-based Can Do Philosophy continues to inform our work. Following the guidance from our parent organization, University of Wisconsin-Madison, WIDA staff are working remotely, meeting virtually, and supporting educators from our homes. More time to reflect individually and connect online have been unexpected but welcome byproducts of social distancing. Millions of families around the world, and the educators who serve them, are navigating closed schools - and new ways of learning.
Rather than focusing on “remote” or “distance” or “virtual” – what if we leverage teaching and learning from home as an asset? In this month’s newsletter, we share insights from educators in China who have been teaching online for two months. They help us understand the opportunities in home learning: families joining the classroom Morning Meeting, students working with siblings in multiple languages, parents getting more involved in what their children are learning. How can we make teaching “at home” and learning “at home” feel more real than virtual? What kinds of offline activities can support students? When we highlight the assets of parents, siblings, pets, and the things around us that make up a home – as opposed to a lonely student stuck on a screen – it helps us build on what we know about culturally sustaining pedagogy, place-based learning and funds of knowledge.
One final asset-based perspective was shared in a recent communication from UW-Madison. Richard Davidson, founder and director of the Center for Healthy Minds, explained while the current COVID-19 crisis can cause pain and suffering, it also has the potential to bring out the best in humanity. “Social distancing is also an act of generosity and compassion toward others by eliminating our interactions as a possible vector for viral transmission,” Davidson says. “Let that sink in — the primary motivation for social distancing is to benefit others.”
Jon Nordmeyer, WIDA International Programs Director
Korean: Exist in Peace