Teachers and students all over East Texas have been forced to adapt to having school on the web.
Jill Bassett, a Laneville ISD teacher, misses seeing her students every morning but is trying to see a silver lining.
“I think it’s been good and bad. We are having to do things differently, but we are also learning and changing into a new direction as well.”Jill Bassett, Laneville ISD teacher
She also said that “walking into that classroom and seeing empty chairs was a little heartbreaking at first.” Bassett described the experience surreal, especially the phone call from the administration that said the closing would be until the fall.
Isaac Ramirez/KETK TODAY ANCHOR: “so far teachers here in this school district say its been a smooth transition…but internet speeds out here in the rural areas can be the source of major headaches.”
Another challenge for local school districts has been dealing with the lack of internet access or slow connection speed.
Bullard ISD went as far as posting on social media that families could access the school WiFi from outside the building.
Bassett said that she couldn’t believe how many of her students don’t have internet access, but stated that she could still reach out through phone or texts.
The Federal Communications Commission estimated that 21 million Americans lack broadband access and the National Education Association says that up to 25% lack the technology to be successful.
Holding class online is nothing new for Lynette Crawley. Through her years of teaching for Texas Connections Academy, an online school, she has found ways to make the process easier for parents and teachers.
“Teachers can collaborate. You’ve got younger teachers around you. I’ve seen lots of teachers team up and they are sharing a classroom on google classroom. One feels comfortable with the technology and working on that part. they are meeting every day. they are having zoom meetings.”Lynette Crawley
She said that no matter how old students are, the important thing is keeping their focus. Crawley stated that “students definitley have to have a routine.”
“They still need to get up. they still need to get dressed. they still need to get prepared for the day like they do for school. they need to have a space, whatever space it may be. It can even be a kitchen table right now.”
Her advice: Schedule time for homework and stick to it as well as setting goals and having a study plan.
Meanwhile, 17 teachers in Lufkin are using this time to do some learning of their own.
“Our teachers have free online access to a program called CLI engage. That is allowing us to pay our employees their regular salary, while they do online courses toward their child development associate’s certification.”Marissa Phillips, Executive Director of Buckner Children and Family Services
They are part of the Mary Jo Gorden Child Development Center, which is operated by Buckner Children and Family Services.
They can work from home and they can use their time at home to train and be better prepared to return to the classroom.
Regardless of the circumstances of the pandemic, many educators believe it’s allowed for more one-on-one time with their students.
“Our parents have been great.we have been using facebook, facetime and zoom,” said Basset. “Learning has become more individualized. Kids will take screenshots and text it to me and I can give them feedback. “
And it serves as a reminder to always be willing to learn because life never stops teaching.
The Region 7 Education Service Center has published a list of resources to aid teachers in their transition to at-home instruction. For more information, click here.