CANFIELD — When Canfield Local School District teachers began the school year, just like their students they learned a few things.
One lesson the educators caught onto by teaching remotely all day is how to use technology in surprising ways.
Third-grade teacher Karen Pavlov, for example, said this way of teaching has thrust her into a new facet of being an educator. The technology, she said, is keeping her “fresh and current.”
If she were in a traditional classroom, she said teaching would likely be easier. This year, her 10th year teaching third grade, seems brand new.
Jamie Miller, clinical director with Alta Behavioral Healthcare, noted that when COVID-19 began to take off in March, there was no precedent for how to handle a pandemic.
“It’s certainly an interesting time. Because we haven’t had a pandemic in over 100 years, no one had a great plan on what to do,” he said.
That included teachers having to immediately teach remotely in ways with which they weren’t familiar. But he also pointed out students weren’t ready to learn in these ways, either.
But the technology has its advantages: Pavlov said she’s able to keep an eye on students if they need a little more help in a subject. Using discretion through messaging or email, Pavlov can offer the assistance to a student.
Remote teachers are still able to interact and collaborate with in-person colleagues, Pavlov added.
For example, fourth-grade teacher Kimberly Benson said she’s learned she can bounce ideas off co-workers to keep lessons engaging for her students. She’s realized she “doesn’t have to recreate the wheel every time.”
Kristin Hartshorn, remote third-grade teacher, said the district’s teamwork approach has helped the remote teachers. The district isn’t “leaving us in the ditch as if we’re in a completely different school,” she said.
These are just a couple of ways remote teachers in Canfield — one for each grade level in the district — have been navigating the school year.
Hartshorn said students feel out of touch from their friends because they aren’t in a traditional classroom setting, but they aren’t the only ones feeling that way.
“Sometimes I feel a little disconnected from my friends here, too,” she said, explaining she often stays in her room for most of the work day.
Her colleagues will meet in her room for lunch, as it’s one of the rooms with the least amount of human activity, but “the rest of the day I’m in my own little corner in my own little chair.”
Ways remote teachers have adapted to isolation are getting up for 10 minutes at a time and walking around the school, giving their eyes a rest from looking at a computer screen.
Others have purchased special reading glasses to protect their eyes from the blue light emitted from a computer, cutting back on headaches.
Alta’s Miller said that with distance learning, a sense of structure “flies out” of the building atmosphere.
Educators and parents should find a way to establish a routine for students, as well as teachers.
“By nature, we are social beings,” he said. Through remote learning, a feeling of isolation can set in.
He suggested that educators and students alike should establish opportunities to socialize with peers, such as remote Canfield teachers having lunch together.
Educators, parents and students should also set time to have physical activity away from the computer or device screen, Miller said. Eating healthier foods and getting plenty of rest are also other key factors in staying healthy, he noted.
For remote educators and students who may need someone to talk to, they can visit altabehavioralhealth care.org.
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