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Teach For America uses summer program to help teachers prepare for remote learning

Posted at 10:32 AM, Sep 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-18 18:14:31-04

CLEVELAND — While schools across Ohio start instruction again, students aren’t the only ones learning. Teachers and parents are sifting their way through how online, in-person, and hybrid learning models will actually work.

The one thing we know for sure is that the 2020-2021 school year is filled with trade offs.

“You have to wear a mask all the time,” said 8-year-old Skylar Bryson about when she goes to school two days a week.

When she’s home, Skylar’s mom Ariel says learning might be safer but it’s not easier.

“It gets boring at home and it’s totally different from what a school setting should be,” said Ariel.

That’s why Teach For America used its summer program, Camp Revolution, to test out how teachers can help students through a screen all across our region.

“So the curriculum was based in this educational theory called Social Emotional Learning and so it’s really tapping into kids’ social skills, tapping into owning your own identity and the way you feel about it,” said Cleveland Spanish teacher Sean Cassidy.

Cassidy says he was impressed with how his older students drove the lessons over the summer, which kept them engaged even over a computer screen.

It doesn’t just work for high school students.

“So I have one here,” said Cleveland Kindergarten teacher Sara Knapp showing a series of drawings to her computer’s camera. “We decided to write, ‘What are we thankful for?'”

Her kindergartners helped shape how she taught the curriculum by letting her know what they were interested in. She could adjust the lessons to hold her students’ attention longer.

“When it was something they wanted to learn about, they made the connection to themselves and to the standard much faster than if it was something that I presented my own way,” said Knapp.

Even if no one can find the ideal model or returning to school in a pandemic, Cassidy says more technology and open minds can create trade offs worth making.

“I can switch to my phone and take them remotely with me and we can run around the park and go on a mini field trip,” said Cassidy.

Teach for America tells News 5 they’re willing to share the insights they picked up from the summer programming with anyone who is interested.

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