Supporting families with students in hybrid and remote learning environments
While schools and districts are struggling to know what to do and how to best meet the needs of our students, the shift to hybrid or remote learning plans have had a dramatic impact on our families and students. During this episode we will meet with four guests who will help us better understand the challenges and also offer some recommendations for how we must continue to improve in our engagement and support of families.
Welcome to education matters presented by the Public School Forum of North Carolina. I'm your host, Maryanne Wolf. While school's and district's air struggling to know what to do and how to best meet the needs of our students, the shift, a hybrid or remote learning plans have had a dramatic impact on our families and students. During this episode, we will meet with four guests who will help us better understand the challenges and also offer some recommendations for how we must continue to improve and our engagement in support of families and students. I am thrilled to be joined by two exceptional educators who are creative problem solvers and meeting the needs of all of our students. Kelly Johnson is the principal and lead learner of Innovation Academy at South Campus in Johnson County public schools, and Lisa Godwin is the kindergarten teacher in Dixon Elementary and Onslow County schools and a former teacher of the year. Kelly and Lisa. You now both have a lot of experience and jumping into remote learning without any notice this past spring, and I know you're busy for planning for what the school year will bring. Can you just take a moment and share with us how you're going to apply what you've learned from the spring as we go into this new year. And I love to start with Lisa. Well, thank you. First of all for having me today, it's a wonderful opportunity, Teoh just kind of share with the community what where we've been and where we're going with remote learning in the next few months. I learned so much, um, from those last months of school and one of the biggest lessons that I learned is relationships are vital, uh, to new success. And, um and I realized that that meant I was gonna have to think outside the box to make that happen. So there were a lot of Dr Eyes t visit my students because even if it was at a social distance, I needed the lay eyes on those almost babies. And I needed those parents to know that I was invested and that I was willing Teoh put my feet. Uh, yeah, on the great on that and make my way to them to help them in any way that I could. I'm so moving forward. I know that that's what I'm gonna have to do again in this coming year to really build those relationships to stay in contact with these. These parents, Ah, lot of them do not have access to Internet. So it's gonna have to be me physically going out, Um, and also making phone calls, staying in contact with them, you know, read mail, anything that that I can do to help these parents feel supported because they are the key. There, there, my partner and without them, then I'm not gonna be a successful educator with There's Children. The relationship Peace were built here at Innovation Academy on three distinct tenants. And the 1st 1 of those is relationships. And so you know that we have the benefit in the spring of having the 3/4 prior to that to establish those face to face, you know, still believe that it can be done. We just have to think about it in a different way. We use the term thinking outside of the box, as as the lab school of Johnson County. That's what we were designed to dio. And so very, very much of what we do is outside of the box on DSO. We're trying to redefine the box. Nothing. This is a great opportunity, you know, to show how it can be done on with, you know, with elementary schoolteachers. Which least about away I believe that you all should wear superhero capes. Um, I don't know how people work with the little people. I think they're wonderful, but, um, so adolescent being our comfort zone here, you know, it is a different kind of conversation because, you know, when we have the the layers of development for at the lessons anyway, on and then you add on the disappointment of there not being able to have those face to face social interactions that they thrive on on. So we try to give them those as much as possible, understanding that until they feel that human connection, then it is very difficult to create, um, really genuine and authentic learning experiences. Kelly, would you share with us a few of the specific strategies you are using and plan to use with your families and students to keep them engaged? Yeah, absolutely. So because we understand that, you know, we we are teachers. Andi parents feel overwhelmed, but by that, by that undertaking, even even those of them who are teachers, you know, they're trying to teach their own Children at home as well as, um, their students in the online environment. So we continue to offer to our students the opportunity to get a lot of certain times to connect with their advisory groups that were already scheduled and put in place. You know it when I say offer. I think it's really important language to note because we gave that structure. We offered that. But then also there are really situations where, like, ability is key. And so we have to. We have to give access in whatever way that child and that family can can get that access because it is different for every situation, one way or another, however long it takes, you know, in whatever way it takes, we will connect Green and Lisa. I think I've told you before that my mom was a kindergarten teacher and so concerned teaches of a very special place in my heart, and I know that many of our parents and guardians, especially those are younger students, are really concerned about how they're going to juggle supporting their kids and supporting their learning And so I wonder if you have any advice for families and for communities that air trying Teoh support their students and how they can best do that, especially as they try to juggle, sometimes working from home or not being able to be at home and other things. Well, my first bit of advice is to show yourself, Grace, um, this is new for everyone, and it's not going to be perfect. It's not. And that's okay. Um, you just take it day by day and sometimes hour by hour, minute by minute. But in order to support my parents last year, and I will do this again this year actually created like a video, and it kind of gave them ideas of how to balance their day with their Children to make sure that they're not having too much screen time to make sure that there are are times in the day where these kids are given opportunities to still be a kid to still play to not, you know, just these absorbed just on academics and how to also we've academics into their daily schedule. For instance, when you're cooking dinner, that's a great time to do some math lessons, you know, with measurement and counting and and that sort of thing, you know, during back. Tom, you can yet that shaving cream on the side of the top and no say hey, you know, can you write a letter B? What sounds letter V may, you know, do a math equation. Yeah, using the shaving cream and you can get all kinds of different floats and things that are letters and numbers shapes that you could throw into the bathtub with the kids. That's an excellent time to do you academics, but you're weaving it into your daily schedule. It doesn't always have toe look like school. And I was on call from seven in the morning until nine at night. I cut it off. It not call. You have during that time here because I know parent schedules are different and, you know, if appear, it gets off, it's six that they're gonna be working with their kids when they get home. So they might need me if you're in that time. So making myself let's double as well, uh, to support these parents. 11. No, they are not alone. Great. Well, thank you for telling. I wonder if you have any final advice. I know that it sometimes feels, are often feels as though we are individual agents, you know, in this process, I think it's important. And in the middle school were set up this way in terms of teaming. It's really important for our teams, Teoh and they may be at other levels. I'm not familiar, but Teoh lean in on each other in those teams on. That was another strategy that we utilized heavily in the spring. We knew that we had to get our message on clearly, as a team, as a large team as well as in our micro teens are great level in content area teams so that we could share those weekly videos with our parents and with our students to give them. You know, those structures, those offerings, those supports. And, um, you know what we knew we had to get our message consistent first and then also far as faras. You know, the what we offer to them as well when we would meet in those teams, you know, and I would be in his many of them and I could be We also found you know, places where we're parents. We could tell that parents were really you know, I'm able Teoh, assist in, um, you know, consistently as well as when students were really being very self directed. And so then I would get those names and I would send them a little note, you know, from a just say, Hey, you're doing great. Keep it up, Really appreciate it. And then also those who were We were, you know, having difficulties at times, you know, it was it ebbed and flowed, but it's time to connect with just reach out to say how can we help you? I could just have so many more questions for you. But I also just appreciate how you have been so creative to meet the needs of families, teachers and our students. And thank you for all you were doing. And I cannot wait for the day when I can visit both of your schools and see all this in action. But I love what you're doing for our kids and families before then, so thank you both. Education matters has brought to you each week in part by town back serving others, enriching lives as we strive to empower families and student in remote and hybrid learning environments, we know that certain students or populations of students have more significant or unique challenges. We're very pleased today to be joined by two people who will share more about how we can engage in support our students and families of color and our students with disabilities. I'm pleased to introduce to your doctor Devon Yago been Hunt, who is a Charlotte Mecklenburg parent and also the president of the Charlotte affiliate of Black Child Development Institute, and Leslie Welch, who is a Wake County schools parents. We know that you both bring very unique and interesting perspectives to this work, and I'm wondering if you'll both share with us some of the primary challenges you're seeing our families and students face in this shift. A hybrid and remote learning Vanya. Absolutely first things for having me on I certainly a pleasure to be here and to be able to share. Um, you know, perspectives about such enduring such a critical critical time. It has been very interesting. Um, since March. Since the closing of school, it has been very interesting. Kolet swept in and completely turned our lives upside down and B c B I. Charlotte has been on the ground in classrooms and in school buildings, reaching Children, teachers and families. So we kind of delivered a direct kind of service. I'm situation around literacy. And, of course, with schools closing that changed everything right because it made it more challenging for us to be able to get our hands on. Parents are hands on students that would receiving the services. And so we've had to shift kind of the way that we delivered our services with the understanding that parents were coming to West expressing, um, some of the challenges that they faced some of those challenges fall around just being ableto manage, right? Just being able to manage home schooling the child, especially when they've got no training, right, no formal training and teaching and no formal training and delivering literacy instructions and wanting the best for their Children but not knowing how to do it and then still managed keeping the house afloat. So we're talking about, you know, job loss, job and securities. We're talking about food and securities. We're talking about mental health challenges because of all the strengths that all of this kind of fell out the sky and then some of our families. This have been magnified 10 times over because these challenges already existed, Right? But now that, um, this whole situation's hope epidemic started, it just kind of magnified it and intensified everything. So So parents are having a really, really difficult time just trying to manage, trying to manage time, trying to understand that they actually can, um, they can contribute to their child's education, making help. Manage that. You know, they just need to know how to do it. Very stressful. For them, it is very stressful. And Leslie, I know you bring a different perspective, but probably shares some of similar challenges. So I'm curious to hear what what you view is the challenges, our families, our faith thing. I would say that one of the things that's kind of the unspoken in the room with regard to schools and Children with disabilities is that it also often is the only break of family gets that each plunging Children myself, I have a 17 year old who's nonverbal in 63 and e whether it allows our families to work during the day or both people, or it allows our families to just get a breather. Because let's say you have a child with very significant behavioral issues as well. Personal care issues is, you know, just add at, um it's it's thrown a monkey wrench in all of that. And so you've got families that don't know are coping at the base level to begin with, just getting by every day, getting that kid to school every day, getting everything right and then taking back over in the afternoon. And now that'll just went, you know, all at once. Um, and I would say the one of the most challenging parts of it has not been so My me has been that obviously it all went came apart once. But there's no up until really, really recently. So you're talking about four months now for going on five. Been a lot of uncertainty as to where we were going with all of this. At any one time there was Plan A or Plan B or Plan C or a nexus. The schools and she talked about not having training that I mean, it really comes home, you know, hits home when you don't have training and how to teach the child stuff for special as well. And it's such a good reminder Leslie and Giovanni, about the importance of the structures that schools also provide, in addition to all the services and understanding of how to meet the needs of students and even having access to Baniyas. You're talking about to those services. I really appreciate that perspective. And, you know, I also want us to think about Are there some strategies that you've been able to use her, that you've seen that really do that in knowing divine you that you worked so closely to support families with literacy? What has this shift to remote learning men for that? What have you been able to dio? So we have been able to work that regularly with a number of schools working with the school leaders administrative team that guidance counselors and literacy facilitators to be able to connect us to families, especially in their lower grades because of research, tells us that the lower grades will be hit the hardest in terms of learning loss and literacy loss. So we've been able to work directly with them to get our hands on families to be able to connect us with those families that they know needed 10 times as much, 10 times more help than maybe some other families. And through those connections, we have change the way that we deliver services by offering curbside. Then what that means is we actually partner with our local grocery stores like Food Lion is one, for example, and we go out every other Saturday and use tools that reach Charlotte has made available to last. Call it, read and check up, and we set up on the curb of those grocery stores and we offer food line gift cards to help with food and securities for those families that need it. We sign people up for reading, check up and teach them how to use the tool. And then we often teach parents how to log on to our virtual events so that they can actually walk them to step by step what the results mean, how to use the tool. And we also tell them, teach them how to break down their time at home. Yeah, so that connection managed getting this activity is done, and we remind them that power is in their hands. Yes, and once again, putting structure and Leslie, we only have a little bit more time left, but I did wonder if you have some strategies that you've seen. The successful or advice that you might have for families that are in similar situations is you've described. Structure is really the key on reaching out to support organizations. Like if you're in the autism community, autism Sight of North Carolina ones of those that have resource is for you online. There's often tons of information out there that they can get. Parents can get their hands on many times it's free. Help structure up your home setting, which for any kid helps. But for kids with disabilities, especially autism structure, structure, burster, Um, and just bringing everything kind of tenor day. You know, um, trying to get yourself calm. I know for us the 1st 2 after the 1st 2 months past my you know, anxiety was way down, and it really helped calm the house. You know, let's get through and figure out that every day is just that that day you're just trying to put one foot from the other and achieve that day. Oh, Yeah, I get so upset about all the things, your knowledge, right? But and we go back to patients and grace, right? And how other people are schools and you know, is we circle back on this episode. We also have the chance to hear from a teacher and a principal and how they're working to engage and hoping that the examples that you all of those shared can also tap into some of those structures but also sharing with teachers and principals. What's working with the work you're doing? You all bring such an important perspective. I know there are so many people nodding their heads right now as you speak and we will, you know, be so We're so pleased that we can share that. And I'm just grateful for the work you're both doing, but also your willingness to share just how hard it is, but also that there are steps become ill. Take so thank you so much. Ammonia and Leslie, for being with us today. I to thank you. This past week, a beloved educator and community member as well as Halifax counties, Principal of the year Tischer Paterson passed away due to Cove in 19. I had the opportunity to know him and all of the work he has done to better education and equity. Our thoughts are with him and his community during this time. And as a parent of a rising college freshman college senior and 1/9 grader, I have been losing a lot of sleep over what the year 2020 will be like for each of my Children. I worry about what they have already missed this year when it comes to learning and life's milestones, and I wonder when they will get to fully re engage in many of the activities they love. As we face the uncertainty of this upcoming school year, I'm also reflecting on how important our school community has been to our family and my Children. Last week, my son's coach gave him a special book chosen for each of his high school senior athletes to bring some closure to a year that was like none other throughout our transition. Jerome learning This spring and even into the summer, I saw my youngest child connecting with school friends on a daily basis through Google, meet face time, forging bonds I didn't think were possible through a screen. Throughout these past four months, I saw neighbors and community members make sure students and need had access to food every day, including over the weekend. All of these instances remind me, in ways big and small, that we must do everything that we can to understand where our educators, our families and our students are and try to meet their needs so that our Children can continue to learn and grow during a very uncertain time. This is the very definition of equity, not equal inputs with the same approach for all, but rather understanding the needs of each student and striving to meet them. And it has never been more important than right now. Some families have lost income, while others have a difficult time communicating with their schools due to language barriers. Others have very unique learning needs and require services that are challenging to adapt to a remote learning environment. Well, some cannot access the Internet and consequently feel very far apart from their school community. Many families and Children worry about the basics right now, like food and safety, and too many have always had these struggles, not just during Kobe, 19 today on our show, educators, parents and family advocates shared specific strategies to support our school communities, which includes students, families and educators during remote or hybrid learning scenarios. You heard about the importance of connection with schools, teachers and peers again and again as paramount in the child's ability to continue their academic and social and emotional learning. As we go into this new year, it is imperative that we provide opportunities that school communities can depend on in terms of forging strong connections. Some students will have very unique needs, ranging from the basics, like school supplies to time with the counselor or social worker. Families may also need guidance and how to support their Children from how to develop a routine or schedule toe how to find accessible child care. Educators who likely have been toiling throughout the summer to plan for this unprecedented fall will need support from us to we need to go above and beyond for them by asking how we can show up and offer help in ways that may stretch us and strengthen us at the same time. Cove in 19 has forced us to approach education differently and no stakeholder and education is ableto work, learn or support their child the way they did before. We must continue to be creative and to work with others to meet the needs of each child this fall. Because, as it's guaranteed in our state constitution, each and every one of our Children deserves access to a sound basic education. Thank you for taking time with us. Tow, learn and think about education. That's all for today, and we'll see you next week.