pandemic teaching
The panel convened virtually via Zoom.

Teaching and learning during the Covid-19 pandemic has posed great challenges for teachers, students, and parents.

Technology is playing a larger role in education than ever before as many students, from Kindergarten through college, adapt to hybrid schedules where they are in the classroom on some days and learning from home in front of a computer on others.

Experts in education and technology joined a Schneps Media webinar, “Pandemic Teaching: How to Make The Best Out of a Bad Situation,” on Jan. 12. The panelists were Eudes Budhai, superintendent of Westbury Schools; Tom Franson, Vice President of Support Services at Custom Computer Specialists; Dr. Joan Neehall, a clinical psychologist, and David Zimbler, principal of Westbury High School.

“From the time that we started to now, we have made a great adjustment to really understand a bit more about this transition,” Budhai said, “and how it’s going to actually move us into the next generation for our children.”

Teachers have had to quickly learn new technology to teach students virtually in the spring, and then in the fall, adapt to teach students in person and through Zoom simultaneously.

“I would say it took many teachers a couple of months before they felt they were effective teaching in this fashion,” Zimbler said.

Parents had to learn the technology to help their children at home, as well, Zimbler noted. Westbury Schools provided workshops for adults to get on board with this new virtual educational world. All students have Chromebooks, and the pandemic has pushed the school district into the future.

“I truly believe, prior to the pandemic, that this was going to be the future of education,” he said. “We’re creating these conditions that I believe will benefit our youth in the years to come. There is no going back now.”

Franson, whose company offers support services for digital learning, said he and his team assist with problems in Zoom, WebEx, Microsoft Teams, Google Classroom, and other online platforms, often troubleshooting video, audio, and WiFi connectivity issues.

“We can offload that responsibility and let the teachers focus on instruction,” he said, “and then we work through the technical issues of getting that child connected and back into the classroom.”

Neehall offered advice for parents and students dealing with all these changes in day-to-day life, starting with creating structure for children and modeling a positive attitude towards the situation.

She also suggested having kids set goals for themselves each morning, having a designated spot in the house for schoolwork only so they don’t get distracted, and engaging in physical activity.

“During online learning, you’ve got to get up,” she said. “Give kids frequent breaks. Get up and get some movement in.”

View a recording of this webinar here.

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