XENIA — When Greene County schools switched to virtual learning near the end of this school year due to COVID-19, some teachers had to completely rewrite their lessons for an online format.
Elementary school teachers in the Beavercreek school district collaborated to create Zoom lessons for students in a special reading program. Preschool teachers in the same district uploaded all their lessons to an online platform and used Zoom to check in with their students.
Though teachers across local districts made similar changes to meet their students’ needs, they and the families they serve missed being in the buildings.
“They [the students] are still a generation that grew up going into a classroom and learning from a person standing in front of them,” said Ryan Gilding, public relations specialist for Beavercreek schools, said.
For families, according to local school district superintendents, switching to online learning included a shift in routine and responsibility. No longer were kids getting up in the morning and climbing on the school bus. Instead, they were gathering at the kitchen table for learning supervised by their parents.
For teachers, switching to virtual school included a shift from partial use to total use of online resources. Teachers had to expand their knowledge of digital platforms and find new ways to connect with their students.
Families adjusted to workload and routine changes
According to Dr. Doug Cozad, superintendent of Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Schools, transitioning from the school environment to the home environment was challenging for families.
“The whole dynamic and routine of doing school was turned upside down,” he said.
Families had to acclimate to kids and parents being at home all day, using the Internet and shared family devices. Some families also had to deal with job loss.
School districts, including Beavercreek, Bellbrook and Greeneview Local School District, conducted surveys to assess how families were dealing with remote learning. When they found that the workload was too heavy, districts scaled back their daily hour and assignment requirements.
Teachers adjusted to online formats
Along with shortening their instruction time and decreasing their assignments, teachers had to adapt their lesson plans to a virtual format.
Cozad said that routine things, like turning in an assignment, became district-wide decisions.
Instead of teachers deciding whether students handed in their assignments online or in the classroom, the district mandated that everyone use Google Classroom to get assignments in.
Teachers didn’t only have to navigate an online classroom, they also had to juggle using emails, Zoom, Google Meet, phone calls, and letters in the mail to connect with the students.
For teachers, this wasn’t ideal, but they did what was needed.
“I was proud of their commitment to something that was completely new and pushed them outside of their comfort zone,” Greeneview Superintendent Isaac Seevers said via email.
Teachers gained skills
The superintendents of Bellbrook and Greeneview both said that the transition to virtual learning benefited schools in a few ways.
Teachers who hadn’t used their digital resources extensively before the quarantine learned how to maximize them. Cozad said this will enhance their teaching when schools return to meeting in classrooms.
Improving their use of technology helped students too, he said. When they started using online textbooks, they discovered reading aloud and video features that helped them learn.
Seevers said that teachers had to work together to make online learning effective. They also had to communicate with parents.
“I believe this increased collaboration and communication will benefit us as a district going forward,” he said.
Madeleine Mosher is an intern for Greene County News.