The COVID-19 pandemic has led to over a billion children being forced to learn from home. Whether a child is learning at home, in a physical classroom, or some combination of the two, one thing is clear: teachers have never been more critical to student success.
Teachers are brave and creative. They continue to go beyond what’s expected of them to deliver educational experiences while helping students build resiliency and confidence along the way.
Learning and engagement don’t stop at the classroom. Many teachers are rewriting the rules to customize online classes to increase student engagement.
Chris Waba is a math teacher in Madison, South Dakota. When one of his students sent an email to him expressing her difficulties with Algebra, she expected an email back offering her some advice. What she didn’t expect is what happened next. After opening her front door in response to her doorbell, the student was met by her math teacher, in person, with a whiteboard and markers in hand. He then proceeded to work with the student on her algebra challenge from a safe distance on her porch.
“It was a spur of the moment decision”, said Waba. “I communicate best face-to-face, so I thought I’d see if an in-person lesson would help.”
It did. By the end of the lesson, Waba said he could see that his student finally understood the concept because she smiled and thanked him.
The student’s father was so impressed that he photographed the lesson and posted the photo on Twitter, earning hundreds of likes and thousands of retweets.
“That’s what teachers are looking for, those smiles,” Waba said. “That’s the joy of being a teacher and that’s what we do it for.”
“It’s been a lot of fun to see the hype. The kids think it’s fun that their crazy teachers went viral. We just hope the video shows how much we care.”
Fifth-grade teachers Matt Vitacco, Alexandra Virlas, and Katie Mies of Hoffman Grade School in Illinois are very close to their students. The three educators have taught their current fifth-grade classes for the last two years, so they know the kids super well, and decided to put their creative skills to good use to keep kids learning.
The threesome devised a hysterical, educational video on cubic measurements. They used the melody from Lizzo’s song “Good as Hell” to create a catchy melody their kids would soon be singing as well as learning from.
“We’re always looking for new, innovative ways to reach students, and using music and humor creates a memorable experience for kids to soak in the information,” explains Mies.
The video has been shared countless times on Good Morning America, as well as Ellen DeGeneres and Jimmy Fallon.
In Lansing, Michigan, Karen, a special education instructional assistant in her ninth year at Davis Middle School, thinks that remote learning will be good for some of her students. Because of the technology being used, she can work with her students more often, in smaller groups than she would be able to if this were all happening in the classroom. This more intimate approach serves her students very well.
Despite all the challenges that the lockdown has presented, teachers continue to prioritize student success. They’re customizing technology, revitalizing lessons, and offering special considerations where needed.
With the shift away from classroom learning in many parts of the world, many folks wonder whether the adoption of online teaching will persist when the pandemic ends.
Education technology has been around for a long time and continues to grow. The trend towards online learning will likely continue long after COVID-19 has passed, but remember, teachers have always been at the forefront of our children’s education and they always will be.
At BigBlueButton, we are in awe of our unsung heroes, the teachers who get the world started learning every morning.