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Humanizing Distance Learning
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Humanizing Distance Learning
Centering Equity and Humanity in Times of Crisis

First Edition


November 2020 | 184 pages | Corwin

“In some ways, shouldn't we always be teaching from a distance?”

Paul France asks this not as pitch for distance learning. But because part of the reason distance learning has been so challenging, Paul asserts, is that we’re replicating long-standing practices that promote dependent learning in our students. Why not use this unique moment of time to reconnect with the true purpose of teaching: to help our students become liberated learners and free thinkers?

The next logical step in teachers’ months-long distance learning “journey,” Humanizing Distance Learning describes how to center humanity and equity in our process of reimagining learning. Even while teaching and learning miles apart through screens, you’ll discover how to

  • Build independence within your students so they’re better equipped to tackle challenges with persistence and learn how to learn
  • Make collaboration and human connection essential components of your pedagogy, offering students the chance to socialize and learn from one another
  • Center and unpack stu­dents’ identities, helping them develop a conscious knowledge of themselves, all the while using their self-identified strengths to overcome any obstacles
  • Plan, prepare, and implement humanized instruction while teaching for student liberation—both digitally and in person.
  • Investigate technol­ogy integration, including the Digital Divide, as well as ways to minimize EdTech integration so that our collective sense of humanity can continue to be front and center

“The future,” Paul writes, “may be unclear, the road may be rocky, and the story may continue to be long and winding as we push forward through this global crisis. But the answer will always be simple: We must teach and learn in pursuit of a deeper sense of collective humanity—and for no other reason.”


“This book is equal parts visionary and practical, courageous and invitational. It addresses foundational needs and wrenching challenges teachers faced during the recent time when U.S. teachers abruptly found themselves teaching remotely. . . . It is a deeply humanizing book.”

~Carol Ann Tomlinson, William Clay Parrish, Jr.

Professor Emeritus, University of Virginia

 

"Humanizing Distance Learning is a book for our times not only because it addresses how to build a culture of thinking and teach for understanding at a distance, but also because it challenges the status quo of education by offering a more liberated and humane vision.”

~Ron Ritchhart, Senior Research Associate,

Harvard Graduate School of Education

 

Paul France has produced a timely and necessary book that will help educators humanize distance learning. Recognizing incredible dimensions of complexity, this book will surely help educators traverse times of uncertainty in distance learning.

~H. Richard Milner IV, Cornelius Vanderbilt

Chair of Education, Vanderbilt University

 

 
Acknowledgments
 
About the Author
 
INTRODUCTION
 
CHAPTER 1 . TEACHING FOR LIBERATION
Learning How to Learn

 
Leveraging Conferences for Habits Check-Ins

 
 
CHAPTER 2 . INTENSIFYING SOCIOEMOTIONAL LEARNING
Structure Is Healing

 
A Sense of Community

 
Hope and Gratitude

 
Justice for Teachers

 
 
CHAPTER 3 . BUILDING A RESILIENT CLASSROOM CULTURE
Building Agreements Organically

 
Taking Into Account Varying Home Lives

 
Rules Are Meant to Be Broken

 
Normalizing Risk, Rupture, and Repair

 
The Importance of Relationships

 
 
CHAPTER 4 . MAKING PLANNING SUSTAINABLE
Learning-Oriented Planning

 
Flexibility and Responsiveness

 
Day-to-Day Planning

 
Adapting Lessons to Distance Learning

 
 
CHAPTER 5 . UNPACKING IDENTITY
Identity Studies

 
Storytelling

 
Infusing Identity Into Everything You Teach

 
The Impact of Identity

 
 
CHAPTER 6 . REDEFINING STUDENT SUCCESS
The Why

 
The What

 
The How

 
Redefining Student Success

 
 
CHAPTER 7 . LEVERAGING COMPLEX INSTRUCTION
What Is Complex Instruction?

 
Multidimensional Learning

 
Deindustrializing Learning

 
Teaching for Liberation

 
 
CHAPTER 8 . BECOMING AN EDTECH MINIMALIST
Moving Away From App-Centric Learning

 
Maximizing Active Screen Time

 
Minimizing Quantitative Data

 
Centering Human Connection

 
A Need for One Another

 
 
CHAPTER 9 . DISMANTLING STRUCTURAL INEQUITIES
A History of Inequitable Funding

 
A System of Compounding Inequity

 
Web-Based Learning as a Means of Oppression

 
 
CHAPTER 10 . CENTERING HUMANITY
Flexible Scheduling

 
Finding Ways to Connect

 
A New Vision for Teaching and Learning

 
 
References
 
Index

"Drawing from years of experiences and insights about teaching, Paul France has produced a timely and necessary book that will help educators humanize distance learning.  By co-constructing with students and families norms of trust, collective problem solving and advocacy, educators are challenged to reflect on the best of their established toolkit while simultaneously co-creating new ways to build communities of learning. Recognizing incredible dimensions of complexity, this book will surely help educators traverse times of uncertainty in distance learning.

H. Richard Milner IV
Co-author of “These Kids are out of Control,” Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair of Education, Vanderbilt University

"This book is equal parts visionary and practical, courageous and invitational. It addresses foundational needs and wrenching challenges teachers faced during the recent time when U.S. teachers abruptly found themselves teaching remotely—a time defined by multiple crises with little time for careful reflection. More to the point, the book’s deeply thoughtful guidance from an educator with rich experience in both technology and teaching points the way to more promising practices in times ahead that can dignify both teaching and learning both in classrooms and on-line. It is a deeply humanizing book."

Carol Ann Tomlinson, Ed.D., William Clay Parrish, Jr. Professor Emeritus
University of Virginia

"Learning from a Distance is a book for our times not only because it addresses how to build a culture of thinking and teach for understanding at a distance, but also because it challenges the status quo of education by offering a more liberated and humane vision.  Through his personalized writing, examples, and stories, Paul France helps us explore how all of us can do a better job of cultivating independence, agency, and empowerment in our students even as we attend to the need of the curriculum we are charged to teach."

Ron Ritchhart
Senior Research Associate, Harvard Graduate School of Education and Author, of "Creating Cultures of Thinking and The Power of Making Thinking Visible"

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