The pandemic has changed the way students are taught across the world and locally as well.
USD 234 in Fort Scott started its’ continuous learning plan on March 30.
Fort Scott Middle School Sixth-Grade Reading and Language Arts Teacher Kathi Hall said the teachers met for several days over Zoom during that week to select essential subjects to be taught.
There would be digital learners and paper packets offered to the students for at-home learning, it was decided.
“We contacted each parent and found out the best way for their continuous learning through our Tiger Dens,” she said. “We started sending lessons on April 6.”
Tiger Dens is a social and emotional learning class that all the students have in middle school, she said.
Students who needed paper packets were because of no internet service, no device nor wanting to borrow one from the school, or their parents wanting them to only have paper packets, she said.
” I think this was one of the most challenging aspects of continuous learning because we as teachers didn’t have the opportunity…. to contact that student through their school email,” Hall said. “We do contact them through their parent’s phone or email to check-in!”
Teachers at FSMS continue to collaborate weekly and plan.
“Our teachers meet several times in the week in Zoom to connect, discuss any concerns or celebrations, and just continue to collaborate,” she said.
Teachers are available for their students and parents through their email or cell phone.
“Most of our teachers are teaching from home through their digital platforms such as Google Classroom, Zoom, and other educational apps that our staff agreed would be the best for the students,” Hall said. “We have had one or two teachers who have spotty or glitchy internet services because of where they reside so they will use their classroom.”
“When I think about the good that comes from our Covid19 situation and continuous learning with students not being in classrooms, there isn’t a whole lot of specifics that I can list as good.” she said. ” However, in any situation, you can find the good. I will say that one of the things that comes to mind is the way our school and district has pulled together as a strong unit.”
“Our lunch and transportation staff made a plan, organized it, looked it over for improvements once it was implemented, and then made it a better plan for our community to receive lunches in a safe and functional way,” Hall said.
“Our teachers and staff have pulled together in a tight organized way to make a plan to reach out to students and connect in a way no one has had to do before.”
“Our tech team has been working seamlessly in providing support, devices etc…for our district,” she said.
“For us at the middle school, our two principals have been on top of things supporting us and the parents/students in a way that feels amazing,” Hall said. “This is so different, new, and uncharted waters for everyone. Yet in a matter of days we begin to see the right decisions made and executed for everyone involved.”
“We definitely have challenges and I am speaking on behalf of our staff that this isn’t an ideal way to educate our students in a long term setting,” she said.
“One of the main challenges is student participation,” Hall said. “Students at the age that we teach, rely on accountability. Their young minds need interaction, sociability, and academic practice (sometimes guided practice).”
“As teachers, it is challenging not to see the faces of our students as well,” she said. “We love our jobs, we are in the profession to change children’s lives through academics, social, and emotional connections.”
“Another challenge we can’t overlook is there are fears and problems (concerning Covid19) in a student’s home with parents out of work, reduced hours, family sick or ill, etc,” Hall said. “The social and emotional well being of our students is a concern. For some students, the school was a safe haven to escape their home lives of whatever is going on that is out of the norm and their control.”
The district is providing learning opportunities for students, not focusing on grades.
“The students who are connected digitally are having feedback on their assignments,” she said. “The teachers are ‘grading the assignment’ and giving feedback through our Google Classroom or email. The paper packets will be looked at once they are turned in.”