Education Week - November 25, 2020 - 9
The Takeaway: " It is nothing short of exhausting, " Atkins said.
" It's basically like teaching two different classes at the same time
in one class period. "
Santa Fe Public Schools, New Mexico
students who are at home full time could easily get lost in the
shuffle if teachers don't put in extra work to engage them. And
the quality of instruction this year needs to be higher than in the
spring, when emergency remote teaching set everyone back.
" We have that experience to fall back on, but yet teachers are
doing so much more this year, " Ritter said.
ÀǘƵ ƵȁƵ˛ɈȺبHybrid learning has led to some positive changes.
The Model: The district is gradually bringing students into
school buildings based on the number of teachers who are
willing to return and the amount of space in classrooms to allow
for adequate social distancing. Special education students
and English-language learners are prioritized for in-person
instruction, and students who eventually want to go back to faceto-face instruction are placed with the teachers who are teaching
from the school building.
The Challenges: Managing in-person and virtual instruction
simultaneously requires more digital devices than many teachers
have in their classrooms, said Tom Ryan, chief information and
strategy officer for the district. Ideally, they need one for the
lesson, one for seeing the students' faces, and one to monitor what
students are doing on their school-issued devices. Cameras that
pivot when a teacher moves are also ideal to prevent teachers from
constantly exiting the frame when they move around.
Meanwhile, the digital divide remains a significant barrier
for equitable remote instruction. Some students attend
day-care facilities with inadequate internet connections for
videoconferencing. Other students have school-provided
hotspots that may not be sufficient for the amount of strain
remote learning puts on the connection. Efforts to determine the
minimum bandwidth necessary for what's required of students
learning at home are still underway, Ryan said.
ÀǘƵ ƵȁƵ˛ɈȺبTeachers who wanted to return to classrooms are
eager to serve as test cases for how in-person instruction can work
during these unprecedented times, said Ryan. Giving teachers
the option to stay home engenders more goodwill and prevents
people with underlying health conditions from having to choose
between their job and their safety.
So far, Ryan's team has found teachers need a microphone
to amplify their voices through their masks, and that simply
replicating face-to-face instruction while livestreaming to
students may not be as effective as offering online students
differently structured activities from their in-person counterparts.
Younger students and English-language learners are particularly
likely to struggle when they can't see a teacher's mouth
movements, Ryan said.
A Small Victory: Ryan's daughter, a 5th grade teacher in the
district, said she's had more robust contact with parents than ever
before. One student learning remotely in her class was constantly
disrupting the class, pulling out inappropriate household objects,
and sleeping on camera. After communicating with his parents,
Ryan's daughter decided to work with him individually after
school hours, when his parents could be there by his side.
" I'm not saying I recommend this for all the teachers, " Ryan
said. But " there are options that are available now that weren't
available last year. "
The Takeaway: " This isn't a comparison between online versus
face to face. This is between having nothing at all or something
that is still engaging the kids and instruction can happen, " Ryan
said. " Some are very successful and other kids are struggling. "
Marshall Public Schools, Mich.
The Model: Elementary school students attend school in person
four days a week, and middle and high school students attend
school in person three days a week. In both cases, students are
split into five groups, with each one having their remote learning
on a different day of the week. The district tried to ensure that
students who live in the same household have the same remote
learning day. A handful of English-language learners, students
with special needs, and newcomers to the district attend school
in person every day. And some students opted to learn at home
full-time for the school year.
The Challenges: " I would say our teachers are very
overwhelmed, " said Beth Ritter, the district's director of teaching
and learning. " I'm not going to sugarcoat it. "
Each day, teachers have some students who are missing,
which means it's hard to keep all students on the same page. The
Meetings with multilingual families have gone a lot smoother
for interpreters than usual. Rather than having to rush from
room to room in the school building on a busy night of in-person
conferences, all they have to do is open a new Microsoft Teams
meeting to enter a video conversation. Families also appreciate
that they don't have to scramble for day-care options when they
need to meet with their students' teachers.
The hybrid model also forces teachers to be more intentional
about how they structure their lessons. Elementary teachers now
focus on reading, math, and social-emotional learning when
students are in person, while home assignments build on what
students learned in class.
A Small Victory: The district has appointed " assurance of
mastery coaches " in elementary schools to check in with students
during their remote learning day. Students get to have some
interaction with the school even when they're not in the building,
and teachers get a small reprieve from yet another responsibility.
The Takeaway: With big changes like a heightened emphasis
on social-emotional learning, school administrators need to
communicate clearly and regularly with teachers and staff who
will be implementing these changes. " We've always known it, but
we've really found that this year, " Ritter said.
Milton Area School District, Pa.
The Model: Students who chose a mix of in-person and remote
instruction attend school buildings on Monday, Tuesday,
Thursday, and Friday. Other students are doing 100 percent
synchronous online instruction, or largely asynchronous
instruction through the Milton Cyber Academy, which existed
prior to the pandemic.
starting with the letters A through L, and Thursday and Friday
for students with last names starting with M through Z. When
students aren't in school buildings, they're learning at home,
and Wednesdays are reserved for one-on-one check-ins for all
students. Nearly three-quarters of students have chosen that
Slightly less than a fifth of students have chosen to learn from
home all week. Some teachers have been assigned to work
exclusively with fully online students.
Another less popular option (3 percent of the district's
students) is an existing online program offered by the school but
managed by a third-party vendor; the district has revamped that
asynchronous online program to include more direct involvement
from a district teacher for students in grades K-8.
The Challenge: Teachers have had to adjust to a curriculum
that must be more streamlined than usual. District leaders
have urged teachers to consider which aspects of the learning
material are essential and which could be optional. " We don't
want the curriculum to become a barrier to achieving success, "
said Matthew Link, the district's superintendent.
Early in the school year, many virtual students weren't
showing up or turning in work on time. The district's professional
development efforts have helped teachers get more creative in
engaging students who are at home. Still, for certain students,
" we need to double down on our efforts to make sure they're
active participants in the process, " Link said.
A Small Victory: District administrators are recognizing more
than ever the value of teachers collaborating with each other, said
Tania Stoker, the district's assistant superintendent. One teacher
might be using a tool another teacher doesn't know about it; that
kind of sharing is much more common now than it used to be.
The Takeaway: " Know that it's OK that when you're developing
your plan and you think it's done, it's probably not. You're going
to go through different iterations constantly, " Link said. " Don't
feel bad if you have to change something that you thought was
the answer. "
Wall Township Schools, N.J.
The Challenge: Students learning remotely-particularly the
The Model: Elementary students are either fully remote or fully
older ones-have been reluctant to turn on their cameras and
keep their microphones unmuted. " K-5 is absolutely great-they
are happy to see their classmates, " said Cathy Keegan, the
But some groups of older students have been very quiet, forcing
teachers to get more creative with ensuring that they're engaged.
As of this month, the district is now specifying to students doing
synchronous learning that they're expected to be ready to speak
and be seen when a teacher calls on them.
Some parents have fallen behind on notifying the school when
their student won't be attending at-home instruction that day.
" We're reinforcing that, " Keegan said.
In grades 6-8, students attend school in person every other day
(except Wednesday). Teachers have the same students in their
class each day-the only thing that changes is which ones are in
person and which ones are online. On Wednesdays, all students
In-person instruction is reserved for lessons on math, English,
and social studies. Next semester, they'll switch to science
instruction. " We had been hopeful and optimistic that we would
be in fully live instruction when we really need that practical
application in lab, " but that may not be the case, said Lisa
Gleason, the district's director of curriculum and instruction.
ÀǘƵ ƵȁƵ˛ɈȺ بDiscipline rates in the district have been sharply
The Challenge: Simply having a Chromebook doesn't mean
down this year compared with previous years, Keegan said.
" We genuinely believe-this is just a feeling-that kids are just
happy to be back, " she said. Keeping them at home might have
exacerbated the social isolation that has prompted many experts
to urge schools to find safe ways to reopen.
all the problems are solved. The district has found those devices
can't support all the resources and instructional technology
programs that teachers use. " We had to pivot and start acquiring
more PCs, " Gleason said. The district also was hit recently with
a cyberattack that prompted some teachers to work from home
until the problem was resolved.
Substitute teachers who think they're capable of teaching
online or comfortable with the health risks of teaching in person
have been difficult to find, even as the number of teachers who
need to take time off for legitimate reasons is higher than usual.
A Small Victory: The president of the district's teachers union
told Keegan she and other teachers were tired of spending
valuable time at the start of each class period asking students
to type their name in the chat as a means of taking attendance.
Keegan's team helped advise her on integrating a discussion
question into the Microsoft Teams platform that teachers
can use to jump-start that day's lesson and take attendance
The Takeaway: Efforts to transform an American education
model that hasn't been comprehensively updated in generations
are happening at a breakneck pace, Keegan said. It's painful and
necessary work: " We may still be back here in 2022. "
Northern Lehigh School District, Pa.
A Small Victory: Some teachers who are particularly worried
about COVID-19 exposure can teach remotely from a separate
area of the school building that students don't visit. Some
students in those teachers' classes are attending school in person,
but they are supervised by another teacher who is in a physical
classroom with them, while others are at home, in the same
Google Meet link as the remote teacher.
The Takeaway: " When you put all your eggs in the basket of
technology being the main vehicle for delivering instruction, even
in the hybrid model, it takes away that stability of having a human
being in the classroom who can deliver instruction no matter
what, " Gleason said.
The Model: Students can attend in-person instruction up to two
days a week: Monday and Tuesday for students with last names
Assistant Editor Alyson Klein contributed to this article.
EDUCATION WEEK | November 25, 2020 | www.edweek.org | 9
Education Week - November 25, 2020
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - November 25, 2020
Education Week - November 25, 2020
Training Bias Out of Teachers: Does It Work?
What the Research Says
Pandemic Is a Workers’ Rights Issue For Schools
How Hybrid Learning Is (and Is Not) Working During COVID-19: 6 Case Studies
A Highly Effective Vaccine Is Likely on the Way. What Does That Mean for Schools And Kids?
Home Schooling Is Way Up With COVID-19. Will It Last?
Districts Are Retreating to Remote Learning As COVID-19 Surges. Do They Have To?
How Will Schools Pay for Compensatory Services for Special Ed. Students?
Let’s Get Back to School—Differently
How to Support Your Grieving Students
23 EdWeek Top School Jobs
Parents Are Watching Like Never Before. ‘Trust Us’ Isn’t Enough
Education Week - November 25, 2020 - Education Week - November 25, 2020
Education Week - November 25, 2020 - Briefly Stated
Education Week - November 25, 2020 - 3
Education Week - November 25, 2020 - Training Bias Out of Teachers: Does It Work?
Education Week - November 25, 2020 - What the Research Says
Education Week - November 25, 2020 - 6
Education Week - November 25, 2020 - 7
Education Week - November 25, 2020 - How Hybrid Learning Is (and Is Not) Working During COVID-19: 6 Case Studies
Education Week - November 25, 2020 - 9
Education Week - November 25, 2020 - A Highly Effective Vaccine Is Likely on the Way. What Does That Mean for Schools And Kids?
Education Week - November 25, 2020 - 11
Education Week - November 25, 2020 - Home Schooling Is Way Up With COVID-19. Will It Last?
Education Week - November 25, 2020 - 13
Education Week - November 25, 2020 - Districts Are Retreating to Remote Learning As COVID-19 Surges. Do They Have To?
Education Week - November 25, 2020 - 15
Education Week - November 25, 2020 - How Will Schools Pay for Compensatory Services for Special Ed. Students?
Education Week - November 25, 2020 - 17
Education Week - November 25, 2020 - Let’s Get Back to School—Differently
Education Week - November 25, 2020 - How to Support Your Grieving Students
Education Week - November 25, 2020 - 20
Education Week - November 25, 2020 - 21
Education Week - November 25, 2020 - 22
Education Week - November 25, 2020 - 23 EdWeek Top School Jobs
Education Week - November 25, 2020 - Parents Are Watching Like Never Before. ‘Trust Us’ Isn’t Enough