Teachers react after starting school with distance learning

Local educators dish on the learning curve they’re managing teaching virtual lessons.

MINNEAPOLIS — For most districts school has been in session for at least a couple weeks now. Teachers have been adjusting to incorporate distance and hybrid learning into their lessons plans. Now that they’re back at work, let’s check in with Maya Kruger from St. Anthony Middle School, Megan Hall who teaches at Open World Learning Community in St. Paul, and Rachel Baumann, a Special Education Teacher at Farmington High to see how things are going.

Kris: Everyone knows change is tough, how has hybrid and distance learning gone so far?

Rachel Baumann: I think everyone is really tired. There is just so much going on and so many moving parts that we have to keep on top of.

Maya Kruger: This year I very much feel like a first-year teacher. Giving instructions, what I need to prepare, all of it is so different than what I’m used to.

Kris: What are the biggest challenges?

Megan Hall: They’ve definitely been technological challenges. How much of our face-to-face learning is about troubleshooting on tech.

Rachel Baumann: You have a student doing distance learning and they have technological problems you need to decide…do I stop teaching the class…do I attend to the student with the tech issues.

Kris: As teachers, what new ideas are you incorporating as you try to adapt?

Megan Hall: We’re experimenting with how to make small break out groups and how to have several different small groups happening at once that I can jump in, just as I would walk around the classroom and visit tables of students talking.

Kris: What are some of the subtle differences of not being in a classroom?

Maya Kruger: You don’t get that same kind of energy, that same kind of buzz. I think that has been a huge challenge, getting kids to participate because they don’t have as much to tell them that this is a safe situation, they don’t have as many opportunities to learn from their peers that they’re accepted, they’re valued, they’re wanted here.

Kris: How are the students handling distance learning?

Megan Hall: Just like any other school year we’ll have 85% of the students are just fine right off the bat but they’ll be that 15% that we got to dig in and make sure that we reach out and help everybody.

Rachel Baumann: They have been so amazing at adapting to where they walk in the halls and how they do lunch and where they sit at the tables and they don’t seem to let that get overwhelming to them.

Kris: Have there been any disasters? 

Megan Hall: My worst moment was when I accidently deleted an assignment that I was trying to amend for one student and then deleted a bunch of other kids work. I was like, it won’t hurt your grades but can you turn it in again. I’m sorry but I want to see your work.

Kris: Will students still receive the level of education parents in Minnesota have come to expect?

Maya Kruger: In my heart of hearts believe that it is possible to have a successful school year where kids are learning and developing their passion and feeling connected to adults and other students.

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