Gliding seamlessly from traditional teaching models to semi-remote to completely remote teaching requires schools and teachers to understand more than the pedagogy for each of the scenarios. In CTE we use hands-on instruction and formative assessments the majority of the time. As instruction moves to a remote learning situation, we must consider liability and access and equity.
There is inherent risk with schools in general and in CTE classes it is higher than in an academic classroom. A couple of years ago I was investigating the risk associated with placing students in internship positions and I spoke with an attorney and he said the only way we eliminate risk in schools is not to open the door. We open the doors and try to mitigate risk as we go. In a remote teaching situation is it appropriate to ask students to complete projects at home for a grade, for example, baking a cake, building a dog house, changing the oil on a car, etc.? Would districts and teachers be liable if a student was burned or the house burned down, or injured while performing a construction or automotive task, or if personal property was damaged? Could this risk be mitigated by having parents sign indemnification paperwork to not hold the district or teacher liable? Is virtual reality technology going to become the norm in every CTE classroom?
The jury is still out on this issue and very few policies exist for this type of situation. Currently most districts are saying, don’t require hands-on projects at home until we can write policy and seek our precedents. This will require CTE teachers to think strategically when planning out their classes as they prepare to glide through different delivery scenarios.
The other area of consideration for teachers is the digital divide. Prior to March 2020, we knew it existed but didn’t pay very close attention to it. There are many schools that have 1:1 devices available to students but are they allowed to take them home; keep them throughout the summer? What about access to internet services? There are many families that can’t afford service and there are still many places in our country where there is no internet service. The district I teach in in Alaska is very large and some students have to drive 30 or more miles just to hit a hotspot. Not a good option in the winter in Fairbanks, Alaska, sitting in your car doing homework, watching videos, or completing projects online.
Districts around the country are going to be quickly trying to address this issue this summer but there may not be solutions in place by fall. Teachers are going to have to be creative to ensure that all students are having a similar, maybe different experience in all the delivery scenarios.
CTE teachers have many things to consider as they move forward to teaching in this new era. Having administrators that understand the needs and challenges of CTE teachers is imperative to moving programs forward.