INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – It’s back to school, virtually, for a lot of kids across Indiana. However, for many districts this e-learning has come a long way since the spring, utilizing new technology and educational online programs.
At Greenbriar Elementary School in Washington Township, teachers and students have been back to virtual learning for a week. The empty hallways and empty desks are a sign of the times, but the classrooms now have staff inside teaching virtual classes.
The district has provided either iPads or Chromebooks to all students. The first few days of school were about learning how to do e-learning, especially for young students where this is their first experience with school.
Brittany Reedy is a teacher at Greenbriar Elementary School and now connects with her first-grade students online. She shows them how to use the zoom-like technology, mute their computers and sit within the camera screen. She’s making the new normal of teaching and socializing with students online, work as well as possible.
“We are really thinking about what questions are the kids going to have? What is going to come up that we need to prepare for ahead of time? So now, it’s just doing that virtually. So, as far as the electronics and the technology, thinking about what might they not know how to navigate,” said Reedy.
Getting 18 kids to listen, miles apart is a challenge. While it’s sad for everyone not to be in person, schools are using iPads and Chromebooks to make the best of a bad situation.
“Just being back with a teacher and starting to learn those routines and those procedures, just what it is like to be in a somewhat social environment, even though it is virtually. That is really where our kids are learning. So it is just be here with us now and working on what we can,” said Reedy.
There’s still math, science and small groups for reading. Plus, new interactive online programs such as Lexia and Dreambox enable teachers to educate at a distance. The students even learn about internet safety and embrace the change.
“Initially, it’s introducing the technology and application. And then the next phase is helping them understand even though I am communicating online, not all of my school work is going to be online,” said Greenbriar Elementary School Principal, Tim Blom
Currently, it’s not clear when kids will be back to school in-person in Washington Township. However, Blom thinks this time away will have some benefits.
“It is difficult to be in the building without kids, but I also feel a great sense of pride when I see how hard our teachers are working to still connect. Get creative in their classrooms and be engaging. I am very hopeful at this point that we will get through this moment of time and be stronger for it,” said Blom.
That’s the mentality teachers like Reedy are taking, still, they miss seeing their students in person.
“I hope that we get them back in the classroom soon,” said Reedy.