The 2020-2021 school year started yesterday. On social media, parents posted their children’s back to school pictures. These back to school pictures were different from others years though. Instead of happy kids sporting their new backpacks in front of school, they were sitting in front of a computer. Yes, thousands of school age children all around South Florida started school virtually yesterday because of Coronavirus concerns.
Having been a teacher myself and having studied educational technology, I wondered how everyone fared. I posted the question on Facebook. The responses varied from a “total nightmare” to “everything went very smooth”.
Working Through the Hiccups
Having technology and virtual schooling thrust upon most households so quickly it is no surprise that many experienced hiccups. Some shared their frustration while others, albeit frustrated, took a comical approach to the new experience.
Jason Woodworth, parent of a middle schooler at Sunrise Middle commented: “First day of middle school is a no go. Nothing works. No instructions nor teacher communication“.
India Tiana responded to Woodworth’s frustration: “Jason Woodworth same, I’ve called, went to the school. Nothing. We have a 6th grader now and it was a mad house and we got zero accomplished”.
Other parents chimed in with advice on how to connect and encouragement. Tiana found out how to connect and told Woodworth ” …we were finally able to get my 6th grader into his 3rd period Teams meeting. We had to use his student number @my.browardschools.com and use the P birthday password to open the teams app as members”.
Peter Gorbetz, whose husband is a teacher responded to Woodworth: “Jason Woodworth Pompano Middle School seems to be functioning decently. There was prior communication to the parents with instructions on how to sign in to classes. Sure, there are questions, but it seems a majority of the students are getting to their classes on time. I’m sure some teachers are better than others, and some schools are better prepared than others, at distance teaching, but everyone should get better as the days go by. I Hope your experience in the days to come get better”.
Susan Johnson and Sindy Ramirez responded with one word “Nightmare” and “Horrible“.
Other parents took a more comical and lighthearted approach. Christine Thérèse Thompson, shared with the group: “Oh boy. That’s about all I can say so far” and Nina Solorzano “Coffee was not strong enough for all the craziness this morning”.
As the myriad of comments came in others shared different experiences where the hiccups were minimal and the first day of school was smooth sailing.
Goyi Torres commented: “Awesome. My kid doesn’t have any problem!”.
Paola Venegas-Mcdonald: “Elementary is running smooth and middle school there was a hiccup in the Am now working ok”.
Heather Sterr: “Shockingly FanFrigginTastic!! Thanks for asking. #8thGrade“.
Nadia Lakhani, owner of MinuteMan Press in Oakland Park, said: “Not too bad, I knew it wouldn’t be easier and it went smoother than expected”.
Alexandra Dumoulin, shared other concerns, but then commented that it was working well: “I don’t feel that it’s fair to the kids to require them to stare at a screen for 7 hours a day. It’s also not healthy or good for their eyes. Their lives have been turned upside down already, friends and socializing are non existent. If they are forced to stay home they should be given work and allowed to do it on their own time. Aside from that to answer the original question everything is working surprisingly well as far as being able to log on and see the teachers.”
Shout Out To The Teachers
Yesterday would not be complete without the teachers. Many of them worked hard all summer in order to be ready for this new first day of virtual school. We all know teachers don’t do it for the money, they do it because they love teaching. So as a parent myself I want to say Bravo! to all those teachers that worked so hard to make yesterday happen.
Samantha Jarvis whose husband is a teacher, commented: “I can say he has put hours and hours prepping until 2 or 3 am for weeks. Give it time. Everyone is trying their hardest”.
Peter Gorobetz responded to Jarvis “…same with my husband. All summer long learning the tools to distance teach, building his modules of lessons, learning how to include different types of learning tools. Who ever says teachers have off all summer did not witness our spouses working hard all summer on this (for no pay!). Applause to your husband!“.
And one of our very own staff writers, Anamaria Moreno, who is also a teacher, worked incredibly hard to make the first day as wonderful as possible for her kids despite the fact that it was a non-traditional first day. After the day was over she enthusiastically shared: “WE DID IT!!! I had the majority of my class on ALL day. We had some expected technical difficulties but somehow we made it through the day. There were no tears! Some kids were fidgety, some shy, but some were so excited to learn and have a Teacher again! We actually got through ALL my lesson plans and the SEL activities relaxed us all. They loved being read to! One of the kids had the cutest, most infectious laugh!
Thank you to those of you who believed in me when I felt overwhelmed. I’m still not 100%, but I’m feeling better and I’ll continue to do so. WE CAN DO THIS!!!!”.
While the first day of school 2020 was unprecedented for most, as Anamaria shares, we can do this!
It may take some time to adjust, but if we can move mountains we can certainly make online schooling work for our kids so that they are safe and the teachers are safe too.