ONONDAGA COUNTY, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Two of the largest school districts in Central New York are starting class on Monday. That includes both the Liverpool and Syracuse school districts.
The Syracuse City School District will be going with an all-virtual model until early October, while the Liverpool Central School District chose a hybrid learning environment. Both of these options come with online elements, which bring challenges to students and staff.
NewsChannel 9’s Julia LeBlanc spoke with a teacher from Soule Road Middle School about how educators are adapting to teaching online.
Matt Starke, a technology education teacher at Soule Road Middle School, said it’s a situation he and his peers have been preparing for all summer. Though he’s been teaching for 11 years, Starke said most educators are feeling like this is their first year in the classroom.
For a science-based course like technology, there’s a lot of hands-on learning, like building robots and printing 3D products. Starke is working to transform the in-person experience so it also makes sense online. At any one point in time, he’ll have 10 or more kids in the classroom and the other half of the class will be tuning in through a live stream. Starke will only see the same kids in class once a week. To enhance the online learning experience, he’s set up multiple cameras in the classroom and has the ability to share his screen with those at home.
“So that’s what we’re trying to figure out is how can we best do these things for our students because we miss our students, we want them to come back, right, we want to see them. We want to do these cool projects with them and we’re working hard to figure out how can we do that best in this environment,” Starke said.
Starke wants to assure parents and their children that teachers are ready for their return. He said there will be learning curves and they’ll all have to adapt on the fly, but they’ll get through this together.
And the good part about using online tools? Starke said it’ll get the kids ready for college.
Syracuse City School District teacher shares how she will teach remotely
For the Syracuse City School District, the student and staff will be all online until early October.
NewsChannel 9’s Julia LeBlanc spoke with Jennifer Horn, a first-grade teacher at Webster Elementary School with more than 25 years of experience. Horn admits when the pandemic first struck back in March, most CNY districts were not fully prepared to switch to an online learning model. Now, though, as the kids head back this fall, Horn said the staff has had the chance to become familiar with the tools it’ll take to connect with the students online.
“As educators, we’re feeling way more prepared. We know what our systems are, and we know how to get the kids into them,” Horn said.
Administrators gave them two weeks before school to get to know their virtual classroom. It’s a program called “Clever.” It can be accessed right from the district’s website, with all the essentials bookmarked right as the kids login.
“We will be doing live sessions quite a bit throughout the day. And then, when they’re not live with us on teams, they will have their digital content to work on,” Horn said.
Horn has created video tutorials for families, making sure everyone has what they need and knows how to use it. If kids are having trouble with or missing assignments, she’ll know about it.
“As educators, we will get alerts if a student is struggling with a particular skill so we know to plan for that,” Horn said.
There’s even a chat feature where Horn can talk to the kids separately at any time. It is a much different way of communicating, but teachers are excited to see their kids again and walk them through each step.
“If you have any doubts, call the school and ask to talk to the teacher. We are here for you,” Horn said. “I know it doesn’t seem it when we can’t see you face to face, but we are all here for you and we want the school year to be really successful for everyone.”
The Syracuse City School District handed out more than 2,400 hotspots to families in the city without internet. There are also hotspots on the outside of several buildings within the district where the families can come into the parking lot.
For a list of those places, click here.