At-Home Learning | September 1, 2020

Let’s Learn NYC! Turning to Television to Support Remote Learning

By Andrew Fletcher, Senior Executive Director of Early Literacy, NYC DOE

Teaching is not easy.  

Families across the globe were able to see this starting last March when the COVID-19 pandemic became our new normal.  

This new normal included the closure of schools and the institution of remote learning – a 21st century response to a crisis not experienced in about a hundred years. Students and their families were now accessing instruction distributed via the internet by their teachers with the best of intentions and a scarcity of know-how.  

But what about those without adequate devices or reliable access to the internet? Among other necessary responses, why not turn to an older but reliable staple of children’s education that’s been around for as long as most of us can rememberbroadcast television.  

It seemed like a good course of action: tap into this kind of media to ensure that children and their trusted adults could tune into instruction each day where all they would need is a television, not even cable! It would not be the same as interactive live instruction, but it would give kids an opportunity to be immersed in reading, writing, math, science, social studies and more while safety precautions required us all to stay home 

And while it isn’t live instruction, we wanted it to feel that way. We titled the show Let’s Learn NYC! because we were in this together – New York City educators, children, and family members. Four months (May to August) and about 70 episodes later, we’ve heard from countless teachers, families, and students how Let’s Learn NYC! has supported their at-home learning, keeping learning playful and fun until we can all gather in classrooms again.  

The teaching isn’t fancyBut kids get to see teachers – not necessarily their teachers, but folks they might see in schools every day, providing instruction very similar to how it would be delivered in school. As a result, there is an instant comfort level in the way the show is experienced.  

Throughout each show, instructional coaches and teachers provide instruction in a way that pulls back the curtain on best practices for teachingFamily members can use these lessons as models for enhancing the educational work already taking place in the home.  

We will continue this work throughout the new school year as a supplement to the blended learning that will be taking place in city schools. Let’s Learn NYC! will air this September on WLIW, Channel 21, starting Tuesday, September 8th at 9:00 A.M. A half-hour family back-to-school special will air in mid-September: on Thirteen, Sunday, September 13th at 9:00 A.M.; on WLIW21, Tuesday, September 15th at 7:30 P.M.; and on NJTV, Monday, September 14th at 3:00 P.M. and Wednesday, September 16th at 8:30 P.M.  

If you’re already a viewer, we thank you for your participation. If you’re not, please join us. We’re in this together and are better together. Let’s Learn, NYC! 

As a teacher, literacy coach, and educator for close to 20 years, it has been Andrew’s life mission to ensure literacy for all. His childhood spent growing up in two different foster homes gave him a particular perspective on equity and access, which is at the heart of this mission.  Andrew began his teaching career in San Francisco and later taught in Los Angeles and New York.  He is currently Senior Executive Director of Early Literacy within the Division of Early Childhood Education at the New York City Department of Education.  The Early Literacy Team strives for equity and excellence for all through its implementation of the Mayor’s and Chancellor’s Universal Literacy Initiative, which has the goal of every student being able to read on grade-level by the conclusion of the second-grade year.