I ran into my friend Molly Stucker the other day. I was walking. She was decorating her front door. Molly is a kindergarten teacher at my alma mater, Highland Catholic (Hi-C), in St Paul. Molly was changing the decoration on her door, which she does every Monday, for the kinders who are able to walk or drive by her house.
The kids stop by because each week she finds a way to include everyone’s name in the decoration. That’s one way they stay in touch. They have online assignments and stay in touch via email and video. They have moved to a flipped classroom approach. And every Friday they all meet up via Zoom for lunch. They do lessons, read stories and interact. They work on sight words, numbers and social studies. While Molly would rather be in a classroom she says it’s going well.
She does miss the personal touch. But again, they have their lunches and the front door to connect them. They have fun assignments like scavenger hunts and the parents have been very supportive.
Hi-C moved to online learning three weeks ago. So they’re a jump ahead of the curve, at least here in the Twin Cities.
The school started looking into online classes a few months ago. They trained teachers. They prepped families – making sure everyone knew what was happening with online opportunities. Translating info into Spanish when helpful. So they were prepared when coronavirus changes started happening. They made sure that everyone had the devices and broadband access they needed. (They asked families what they needed; many were OK for computer and some got an iPad.)
The school teaches kinders through 8th grade. The younger kids use Zoom. They older kids use Google Meet. The school planned on younger kids going online in the morning and afternoons for the older kids, mostly to accommodate families with more siblings that devices. Molly has been using Facetime to connect with students and families individually.
It’s a new world for sure – but it brightened my day to hear how well it’s going!