RE@L is pleased to present an interview with local teacher, Rebecca Main, about her recent experiences with online/onsite learning in her school.
Rebecca helped our RE@L team produce our “1Up On Vaping” video resources for teachers.
Many of Ms. Main’s students are very motivated and able to learn in these modes. But, many more learners may need help!
Teachers are facing onsite/online teaching problems. There are no simple answers to these issues, especially given the unique needs of each learner and the needed, diverse talents of each teacher.
Today’s curriculum contains far more complex topics than previous generations. Even with parental assistance, few students find learning accessible.
To help other teachers out there, this RE@LBlog presents some helpful insights and tips gleaned from an interview of teacher Rebecca Main by RE@L Consultant Tacy Mangan. Read on!
“Tacy: Rebecca, let’s start talking about some general background about home learning since there has been that huge shift that happened a few months ago. First of all, how would you define the term home learning?
Rebecca: Well, there’s a couple different ways to look at the term home learning. When you’re looking at home learning, it can be because you’ve been taken from an in-school setting, and now you’re at home and you’re doing that because of distance learning or because of other factors that have come in and just changed all of the pieces of your life, so now you have to learn at home.
There could also be the piece of being a home learner because you are home schooling. And that’s obviously a totally different choice and you’ve chosen to do your education at home. And then any real learning that’s happening at home and not necessarily with or without a licensed instructor, that would be home learning something that you’re doing in your residence.
Tacy: You’re technically an online school teacher. So how is home learning affecting you during this time of the pandemic?
Those students are going to be partially online and partially in person. And so for half of that student’s career, they’ve had to reset and go home and do most of their learning from that home setting. And then the other two days, they would have already been doing assignments online and teachers already had that set up.
And there are a myriad of different ways they can learn either from Google documents or an actual program….so there hasn’t been a huge shift, but having everything 100 percent online or a product that can be utilized that way is the way that they learn basically everything.
Tacy: To clarify, you work mostly with the middle school grades?
Rebecca: Yes. I do teach K through 12, but the majority of my time does sway towards that fifth through eighth grade.
Tacy: Regarding the administration, how did they prepare you or help you prepare for this shift to home learning?
Rebecca: It’s interesting that you ask that question. I actually share an office with two out of the three of our administration. And I watched as they were feverishly figuring out how to use things like Zoom and meetings and how to connect with students at home. And these are things that have been available, but we haven’t really needed them as much because we have that in-person component.
But what they did the most was really making sure that we knew how to use all of the online features that we were going to need every single day. And then the way that it was set up here in this State is that the Governor said, you have this many days or weeks and you need to take the time to lesson plan and figure out what you want to do. And so what they did is really give us the time to make our choices and choose our curriculum.
Tacy: Well, let’s talk a little bit more about that, if you don’t mind, because, as you said, you talk with many other teachers. What are the main issues when the curriculum isn’t readily available? They have to learn something new?
Rebecca: I think the biggest issue for them is that they were used to having it either on paper or in a book that they were going to read with those students in person. And now it suddenly has to be online and put into PDF versions and online versions of things they can see on the screen. I think that’s really been the trickiest part. Most people were still kind of in that paper book world or they’re trying to fill in the gaps. And that was what they were going to be teaching. They had to go find something else.
Tacy: And how do they do that? And this is also a question for you, too. How do you go about finding that new curriculum?
Rebecca: The biggest way that I’ve done it lately is I’m in a couple of groups where I can see curriculum that’s put up or ideas that others have put up. And I find myself in groups with other health teachers online and they’re finding that they like this, so they share it with everyone and say how they used it and they’ll give like little pointers of how they liked it. They’ll even put out their email and then people can email back and say, hey, I want to try that.
And a lot of the times it’s a Google created document or something that’s 100 percent online that we can make a copy of ourselves and just finesse and make it work the way we want it to. RE@L adds here a link to Google’s powerful student tech tool, “Digital Interactive Notebook.” This powerful student tool allows each of them to show evidence of what they know, and what help they need to achieve. (Just click on the graphic.)
Tacy: Well, how stressful has that been? Again, I know you’re in a bit of a different situation. Can you also talk a little bit about the other teachers, are they stressed or how’s that going?
Rebecca: I’ve heard that it’s been very challenging for the teachers that are currently working in the schools and have to do the grading and the one on one meetings or like the whole class meetings every day. Those things have been very challenging for teachers because they’re trying to go through their own life at the same time.
So maybe their own children are at home with them or they have all of these other pieces that they have to take care of someone else in their life, maybe a sick family member or whatnot.
But all of these little pieces are making it difficult for teachers to do the job that they would have done if they had been in their school setting and able to focus on just teaching.”
New Tools for Each Teacher and New Tools for Each Student!
New tools to help both teachers and students, and including parents, too.
Students share their learning at home.
Stay tuned for more on this informative interview!