Uniontown’s school district began a continuous learning plan to allow students to learn from home during the nationwide closure of schools, due to the COVID 19 pandemic.
Last week, a parent’s story of how the learning plan was working was published on FortScott.Biz.
This feature is from a teacher’s view.
Rose Gauthier teaches kindergarten at West Bourbon Elementary School.
Following is an interview by email from Gauthier.
When did the USD235 Continuous Learning Plan begin?
“We began Thursday, April 2nd with a practice run with the parents and students to work out kinks. We started our remote learning officially on Monday, April 6th. We will finish on Tuesday, May 19th.”
How much daily planning do you have for the classes?
“A lot. A teacher’s job has never been a 9:00 to 5:00 job, but even more so with this new way of teaching. It is hard to put a certain time frame on all the work the teachers, administration, and staff have put into it. From getting devices into student’s hands, the tech department working out tech issues for teachers and parents, and teachers creating different ways to teach their students with this new way of learning.”
Did you get together as a group of teachers and decide what the most important things to teach are?
“Yes. The school began with many “Zoom” meetings that included administration and teachers, with guidance from KSDE, to determine the best way to reach the kids.”
(Zoom provides users with a cloud (internet) platform for video and audio conferencing, collaboration, chat, and webinars across mobile devices, desktops, telephones, and room systems, according to the Zoom website).
“I create a meeting on Zoom and send the parents an invite.,” she said. “The students click on a link and have a password to log in.”
“Our focus, as for many schools, is primarily the social and emotional spirit of the kids. This is a difficult and confusing time for them and many of the kids do not understand what is going on, especially at the primary levels. Letting them know that we are here for them, we miss and love them. Academically we are focusing on maintaining what the kids have already learned and limited new material to the essential outcomes that were agreed upon as a team”
Do you teach from home or do you go to school?
“Both, the less I need from my classroom the more I teach from home. I go in once or twice a week.”
Have you seen any good come out of this difficult situation of not having the students in a classroom?
“Out of every bad situation, something good always comes out of it. Nothing will replace the social and emotional aspects of being together in the learning environment. The hugs, the high fives, being right beside them to guide them in their learning.”
“This situation has given us the appreciation of each other, the parents an opportunity to be a bigger part of the learning experience, and for all of us to step back and remember what is really important in life. And mostly, we get reminded of what a great community we have. We couldn’t do this without the support of great parents.”
What are some of the challenges?
“The biggest challenge is not seeing the kids every day. Adjusting to remote learning and tech issues are some other challenges, which gets easier as we go along. Also, reaching those kids without internet access is a challenge.”
How do you grade the kindergartners in this new plan?
“In Kindergarten we don’t give a traditional letter grade. We use checklists to provide feedback to parents about where the students are academically. During this time, we will still focus on those checklist skills while understanding that we will need to be prepared to provide the needed remediation to students at the beginning of the 2020-21 school year.”
“The district has worked together to provide a similar learning experience for all students, but obviously this looks slightly different based on the grade, content, teaching style, etc.”