School is back in session! Local teachers and students get ‘trial by fire’ lessons in distance learning

April 3, 2020
By Marcy Shortuse

BY MARCY SHORTUSE – The first week of virtual schooling for The Island School and the Charlotte County School System is in the books. While it was a little more like herding cats than teaching kids (or more like teaching a herd of cats to walk on their hind legs, as far as the elementary school students were concerned), progress was definitely made.
The students are using teleconferencing platforms to meet in small groups with a teacher, so the first week was more of a reunion time than a learning time. That will soon change, as the basics of online learning start to take hold.
Jean Thompson, head-of-school for The Island School, said there were a few challenges and road blocks, but for the most part it was better than expected.
“As we started distance learning this week, seeing and talking with the students on Zoom pushes those difficulties to the side and brought a smile to my face!” she said. “I am also very grateful to all the TIS families who have been so patient and so willing to work together as we navigate this entire new way of teaching and support student learning. A huge ‘thank you’ to them. I can see the potential, and think some of these tools will be integrated into our traditional classroom when we return to school.”
This “distance learning” was trial by fire for almost all teachers, including the ones who teach middle school and high school in Charlotte County. MJ Sanger, an island resident who teaches science at L.A. Ainger, said she was impressed with how smoothly the platforms they were using – Edgenuity and Google Classroom – are running. With her students being a bit older, and many being more savvy with these types of programs through their experience with social media, it is a bit easier than with the grade school children.
“I’ve had very few problems with the programs,” she said. “Just about all of my students are doing their work on schedule, and most seem happy to be back to school. The school district should also be commended for rolling this out so quickly and seamlessly.”
We will keep you informed as the remainder of the school year rolls on. This should be an interesting time.