Inside the classroom: educators juggle in-person and remote learners
Teachers at Belmont Elementary give an inside look at how they manage teaching remote and in-person learners simultaneously.
Belmont Elementary School, located on north 14th street just north of Cornhusker Highway, has the highest number of remote learners – 220 students – in the Lincoln Public Schools district.
Tuesday morning, Channel 8 News got a glimpse inside the classroom at how teachers have adapted to teaching remote students and in-person students simultaneously.
“I’ve been able to kind of get used to it, work with my team, collaborate with others in the building but it is very different than what I was expecting my first year teaching to be,” says first grade teacher Haley Greene.
Miss Greene has 16 students in her classroom and seven on her screen. The students on Zoom are propped up in the front of the classroom, facing the whiteboard. When giving instruction or demonstrating, Miss Greene stands in front of the whiteboard, making herself visible to students at home and at school.
She says one of the hardest parts is making sure her Zoom students get the same interaction as her face–to–face students, or ‘friends’ as they call them at Belmont Elementary.
“Showing me their marker boards, constantly asking for that feedback, thumbs up, repeat after me, and just like I did today, walking around and showing the camera so they can see their friends at home learning,” Greene says.
The same struggles go for third-grade teacher Samantha Baker. In her fourth year of teaching, Baker says the intertwining teaching methods have made her more innovative.
“Right now I’m just having students type it in the chat which is definitely not as beneficial as verbalizing your thinking so I’ve been trying to create more structured opportunities for them to unmute and share their thinking,” Baker says. She says facilitating the community aspect and feel of the classroom has been tough. “I’m learning more creative ways to be active with them as far as how to check in with them, hear their thinking, so that’s something I’m hoping to improve in every day, it’s more of a challenge.”
For the most part, Miss Baker and Miss Greene say their Zoom students becoming increasingly more familiar with the technology, which makes things easier for everyone. The teachers also say they’ve received mostly positive feedback from students and that parents have been very supportive.
Although they make it look easy, they say it’s anything but that. Baker says she is taking the changes as a teaching opportunity for her students.
“There’s a lot more going on on in the inside and I kind of just have to keep it cool on the outside for the students but it definitely feels like a juggling act every day,” says Baker.
But, at the end of the day, they say it’s worth it for the kids.
“It’s a learning curve but its fun,” Greene says. “It’s great to still be able to engage with those students both in-person and at home.”
“It’s getting smoother every day,” Baker says.
Belmont Principal Kim Rosenthal says the number in remote students is constantly changing as more students are returning to in-person learning daily.