A virtual forum hosted by CEA brought elementary school classroom teachers, special education teachers, media specialists, literacy coaches, school social workers, and others together to share tips, tricks, and challenges—and a few laughs—related to distance learning.
Among the hurdles teachers reported:
- “Different schools and districts are comparing themselves to each other, but we don’t all have the same capacity and resources.”
- “If we have to do this in the fall, we need time—teachers need time, teams need time—to really plan and make this work. We are already finding ourselves working long days and nights, often until 11 p.m.”
- “The level of documentation for special education teachers is through the roof. It took me four hours to update my assignment log and parent contact log. I’m working 10-to-14-hour days, seven days a week. It’s a good thing my own children are grown, but many of my colleagues also have school-age children at home.”
- “Some Facebook groups have become pretty hostile, so set your boundaries.”
- “One student told me she left her apartment yesterday for the first time in eight weeks. How can that be good?”
- “My own son has regressed a little bit during this time, needing me—his parent—around all the time.”
- “I’m afraid we’re either going to see a zillion new referrals for special education in the fall or none at all. And neither is a good scenario.”
- “Student engagement has not been tackled or figured out, so grading is going to be a challenge.”
- “There is a huge difference in live versus asynchronous learning within and among districts. Some districts have legal guidance prohibiting certain things, such as live video conferencing, while others allow it. There’s no consistency.”
- “As a school media specialist, I’ve been on the tech end of it, rolling out Chromebooks, figuring out how to get them handed out, helping students and parents learn how to use them, getting families access to Wi-Fi. Not every parent or child has the same facility with technology. Not every family has the same access.”
- “I had a parent say this about his student: ‘I had no idea he would be like this. I am so sorry.’”
- “You can definitely tell that some students are getting a lot of help from parents while others are left on their own.
- “In the beginning, we were told that we didn’t have to track students’ assignments, but now we are having to track all of this and to pick standards for grading first-graders with all these varying degrees of help at home.”
- “Sometimes you are seeing students who were having trouble composing a complete sentence and are now submitting whole opinion pieces with an introduction, body, and conclusion. I had a parent admit to me that she’s been doing all of her second-grader’s work all week.”
- “What is this going to look like in September, if we are still doing virtual learning and I have five-and six year olds that I don’t know? At least with this class, I had more than half the school year to get to know these little ones. I just am so concerned about what’s going to happen when these very young children are new to this, and I’ve never met them and have to teach them this way.”
According to a new survey from CEA, AFT Connecticut, and WFSB Channel 3, distance learning is causing stress and overwhelm for teachers, whose workload has increased.
Watch WFSB’s report from last night, and tune in tonight and Wednesday at 11 p.m. for more special reports on how students and teachers are handling the transition to distance learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
During these challenging times teachers are going above and beyond to learn new skills to reach their students. Watch CEA members from around Connecticut describe teachers’ role during this health emergency.
Teachers are taking on the challenge of educating during a pandemic and are innovating to keep their students learning, CEA President Jeff Leake told WTIC Radio during a recent interview.
“I’ve been a teacher for over forty years in Connecticut, and clearly nothing has ever been in front of me like what’s in front of our teachers right now,” Leake said. “They are rising to the challenge and really stepping up.”
He continued, “I am so admiring of the effort, the intensity, that teachers are putting into this—trying to make sure that, though we can’t replicate the classroom environment, we’re out there trying to make sure that kids are still learning.”
Addressing Governor Lamont’s executive order requiring school districts to continue to pay school staff during the pandemic, Leake said, “Our teachers recognize that schools are education communities. It’s not just about the teachers or the paraprofessionals, it’s about everyone who contributes to the learning of our students.”
Listen to the full interview.
Stratford physics teacher Kristen Record after a morning video conference with her AP students.
As learning has moved online in many districts, especially among secondary students, there has been a learning curve for both students and teachers. Video conferencing tools can enhance student-teacher interactions, but only if proper steps are taken to manage security issues and make sure students know how to use the platform appropriately.
Stratford teacher Kristen Record, a physics teacher at Bunnell High School, says she has found video conferencing to be a great teaching tool, given the circumstances, at the high school level. “I get to see my kids’ expressions and have real-time interactions and discussions. It’s also really important for students’ emotional well-being to have time with their class community.”
Video conferencing has been so successful for the 2011 Connecticut Teacher of the Year partly because, before launching into her first online lesson, she made a point to teach students both how to use the platform and the proper etiquette for video conferencing. Read more