Thursday, April 9th, 2020
Teachers finding resourceful solutions during pandemic.
For many students, the initial suspension of in-class learning likely came as a disappointment; cancelled field trips, special events postponed, and the growing uncertainty of when social distancing would once again be social interacting! For teachers, the decision also meant figuring out in a hurry how to normalize virtual learning environments for their students, and themselves! Instead of taking the two-week spring break off to rejuvenate and relax, teachers throughout the Province rapidly began the unprecedented shift towards familiarizing themselves with online learning platforms.
Mt. Sentinel teacher Danny Leeming is well versed in utilizing digital media tools and platforms to deliver lesson plans, as one of the Performance and Media Academy teachers at the high school in Crescent Valley. Leeming has also helped many students transition to the Google Apps for Education platform over the years and has recently put together a Google Classroom and GSuite resource page together with LVR teacher Lori Jones, for teachers that are now transitioning to online learning. “I've been lucky to get to work with Lori, who started the Staff Classroom, and I’ve learned so much from the comments, additions, questions, and material that has come flooding in from teachers on how best we can help each-other when we have to do some new learning.” Says Leeming.
Director of IT, Nick Howald and the entire IT department have been working incredibly hard behind the scenes to ensure students are kept safe, secure and supported online during this unfamiliar and unprecedented time. This has included ensuring that all students have access to technology, through loaning of equipment and devices, and ensuring that all teachers have the equipment and applications they need to learn how best to maximize the tools to support online learning for their students. All while parents prepare to set up classrooms in their kitchens and living rooms!
Everyone agrees, this is not business as usual!
What has happened though as a result of this pressure, is a multitude of new possibilities and innovation throughout the district. Teachers are sharing ideas, resources and curriculum online. Partners in learning from the community are even further exploring ways to deliver flexible learning opportunities for students. Even students are weighing in with creative ideas about how to create and showcase their work online. Community members are coming forward, willing to connect and educate students in whatever format is available to them. “We may be at home online, but we are not alone and the opportunity for innovation is huge!” says Leeming.
Community collaboration is at the heart of finding solutions for everyone these days, and generosity is abundant when it comes to helping where one can. One such example that is currently making a difference in our region is a collaboration between staff from SD8 (Kootenay Lake), SD20 (Kootenay-Columbia), the MIDAS lab (Trail) and Selkirk College that have come together to help support the production of the much needed Personal Protective Equipment to fabricate face shield parts using school 3D printers. When asked whether there was an interest in funding the purchase of material to print the face shields for our nurses and doctors in the region, the staff of Mount Sentinel responded with more than enough to print masks for weeks!
“I am incredibly proud of all SD8 Kootenay teachers and staff and all the teachers that are taking the challenges that each day brings head on.” says Superintendent Christine Perkins. “These are extraordinary times and it is heart-warming to see how our community has pulled together.”
For more information;
Dr. Christine Perkins
About The Board of Education of School District No. 8 (Kootenay Lake):
The Board of Education of School District No. 8 provides educational services to numerous diverse communities in the East & West Kootenays, including Crawford Bay, Creston, Kaslo, Meadow Creek, Nelson, Salmo, Slocan, South Slocan, Winlaw, Wynndel and Yahk. Its dedicated team focuses on providing the best possible educational opportunities for over 5,400 students and their families. Its mission is to focus on excellence for all learners in a nurturing environment.