GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — With the new school year just a few weeks away, new challenges are ahead for many districts planning to start with virtual learning.
Many students have been out of the classroom since March, but at Lake Michigan Academy, they made the switch to remote learning right away.
“The good news is we got to meet their pets, we got to meet their siblings. We really formed tighter bonds with the students by embracing the distractions that were there,” said Nanette Clatterbuck, principal and CEO at Lake Michigan Academy.
Conducting class in a virtual environment is a largely foreign concept and requires constant flexibility.
“One lesson that we learned was that we were giving out too much work,” Clatterbuck said. “And the students were having a difficult time keeping up with that work.”
Parents often had to help their kids as much as their teachers.
“The big challenge, and I think a lot of families are facing this, is that parents need to work,” she said. “And they may not be home to be that co-teacher.”
So, Lake Michigan Academy scheduled virtual meetings with parents once a week to come up with solutions.
“Parents would just come to the meeting and we would talk about whatever issues they had on that particular day on whatever they were facing,” she said. “For me, that really helped drive a lot of the decision making.”
And they found that keeping kids on task, regardless of the parent being home, made a difference.
“One parent actually put up a whiteboard and she would put her child’s schedule every day on that whiteboard because we know, with our students, that they need structure.”
It will require more work from parents, students and teachers, but it’s temporary.
And one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to the upcoming school year.
“We need to remain tough and we need to remain resilient,” Clatterbuck said. “We need to be there for our children because they need us, and they need for us to help them get through this.”