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Educators and parents share their thoughts on distance learning

Superintendent Bill Husfelt sent a message Monday morning to Bay District School students' parents to talk about distance learning.(MGN Image)
Superintendent Bill Husfelt sent a message Monday morning to Bay District School students' parents to talk about distance learning.(MGN Image)(WJHG)
Published: Apr. 19, 2020 at 2:22 PM EDT
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By: Sophia Hernandez | WCTV Eyewitness News

April 19, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) – "I don't want them to lose interest in learning because it is a little bit different or difficult or more independent right now." Mother of three, Marie-Claire Leman shares, she agrees with the Governor's decision to extend distance learning throughout the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.

While she is grateful for the flexibility, compassion, and patience the Leon County school district and teachers have shared, the online learning does have it's challenges.

"I already have six or seven platforms just to receive the information for where the work is hosted, what the expectations are, and when the meetings are and when the deadlines are. And so it is a lot to manage, and a lot of teachers to keep up with," Leman says.

Other concerns she finds are the various needs within families, whether that be getting equipment, households with multiple kids sometimes needing the same device at the same time, or parents working full time at home and then juggling school as well. Teachers like Hannah Jimenez, share that for both teachers and her students there has been difficulty navigating technology and finding access to strong Wifi. A mom herself, Jimenez states that she notices when her child and her students work from home, there is a lack of structure, affecting their receptiveness to the online platform.

But her biggest concern is the impacts of the lack of in person connection, "It makes it harder for the kids to reach out and discuss what issues they are having." A solution Jimenez finds, is using Zoom as a way to potentially host class, having that capability to see and hear students, as opposed to giving online instruction that needs to be completed by the student on their own time.

Leman, has been juggling different times, and schedules for each of her children, while working full-time, "I think it is a little bit overwhelming when it is just about receiving work, doing work, uploading work, receiving work, doing work, uploading work." She believes that for the remainder of this school year, where usually the fourth quarter tends to be more event focused and testing based, that teachers will emphasize that human connection, and encourage students to use face to face online platforms.

While there are hardships with the new system of learning, it is not all negative. Jimenez says she has heard from her students that regardless of who they were friends with before, they now feel bonds as a class, and can't wait to return to their physical schools, "It has created this sense of community, where the kids really can't wait to go back to school and the teachers can't wait to be back in the classroom."

Teacher Sherica Howard hopes that this new way of teaching, can influence and possibly change curriculum moving forward, "I think the whole system should be shifted as we shift back into the school system, I don't think we should go in the same way we came out."

As for what the future may bring? Leman believes review will have to be done at the beginning of fall to help students get back to speed. She hopes there continues to be reasonable expectations for both students and parents at home, "I think teachers know they are going to have to come to school in the Fall and meet the children where they are at."

Howard is certain that review may need to take place, being that students have been so separated from the traditional classroom setting, "They may be way more relaxed, and farther behind academically...so they may have to get re-reared into the educational process."

Howard hopes that during this time, parents take the opportunity to connect with their children and hone into their social skills, emotional behavior, and life skills. Jimenez says this has been a learning curve, across the board, and hopes that this gives others a sense of the importance for the teaching community, and what educators do. She believes that in future, technology will be more heavily incorporated into how teachers reach their students, and teach.

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