We weren’t expecting a pandemic, but we were ready!
Eyebrows were raised when we moved our school to 2-to-1 technology. It was believed that providing students with technology at home was just giving them a way to play games, watch movies and surf the Internet. Our strategy as a school, was to prepare our children for the next century workforce. We wanted our students to be able to submit their homework online, work on projects at home and connect technology with their peers and their teachers.
When we implemented Summit Learning in 2018, we took our strategy a step further. We began to teach our students how to set goals, work with a mentor, submit assignments to their teacher and receive feedback that they used to improve their work. Our students became more accustomed to accessing teacher recommended resources online and they developed into self-directed learners.
Enter the Coronavirus Pandemic. We had to make a very quick shift to distance learning. In our district, schools were scrambling to create lessons for children, getting take home devices to children, ensuring families have access to the internet.
We were ready. All of our children had devices at home. Our teachers planned their lessons like they do on a regular basis. We created an online lesson schedule to support all students. On the first school day after school closed, 87% of our children accessed the Summit Learning platform. That percentage has increased to 92% daily.
Students are completing assignments, content assessments and collaborating with their teachers and each other.
Millions of adults all over the world are now working from home for the first time and while they may have the laptop, the printer and other gadgets, they’re really struggling to get work done. They didn’t grow up in a school system that was designed to equip them with the skills and habits associated with lifelong learning. Our students were ready and this was not a heavy lift for them. So, the question is aren’t we demanding that schools across the country, set students up, not just with the technology, but with the know-how to be able to work from anywhere.
One of the reasons our distance learning program with Summit Learning has been successful is the fact that our staff have relationships with their students. Teachers connect with students through teleconferencing platforms. Counselors call and check on students who have not been online. Deans of Students remind students about appropriate online behavior and create virtual celebrations for students. One of our special educators calls each of his students every morning to wake them up and makes sure they are ready for class. When schools are driven by relationships, those relationships can drive learning outside of the classroom. Mentoring is making this transition easier – having the strong connection with teacher is helping students get through this time and continue learning.
Naturally we miss seeing our students every day and social distancing is difficult. We are adapting to the new normal. We are confident that through Summit Learning, our students are not only learning, they are developing as individuals who can adapt to change, and can work from anywhere.