A Virtual Perspective on Learning

A Virtual Perspective on Learning – and a “Thank You” to Teachers
Posted on 03/23/2020

A Virtual Perspective on Learning – and a “Thank You” to Teachers

March 20, 2020 - As we start our day today, we are all in the same unexpected place: a place of realization that life has changed. Our new “normal,” for now at least, is very different from what it was early last week. While some adults can continue working, others cannot, and many are working from home and trying to shuffle the reality of a workday along with children who have had their routines turned upside down. This is the same reality faced by teachers within Humboldt County, as they work diligently to provide distance learning to students, despite the challenges.

Eureka City Schools is home to a preschool, four elementary sites, two middle schools, two high schools, and an online virtual school. In total, teachers are committed to educating over 3,600 students within our community. Over the past couple of days, all Eureka City Schools’ staff worked together to prepare packets, and virtual classrooms, for what could be an extended distance-learning environment. Preparation has consisted of contacting parents and guardians, prepping packets/virtual classrooms for continued learning, and establishing a stable routine for students and families.

Joel Mitchell, a teacher at Winship Middle School, has worked for Eureka City Schools for two years and has taught 7th grade for a total of eight years. At Winship, he is a 7th grade Team Leader and is a part of the Leadership Team. On a typical school day, Mitchell teaches over 90 middle school students social studies, language arts, and advisory.

This week, Mitchell has contacted all 33 students in his Advisory Class, also known as homeroom. His dining room table at home has been converted to both a teacher’s desk and a conference room, complete with his class rosters, laptop, textbooks, and an endless supply of coffee. “The response from parents has been so uplifting and encouraging,” states Mitchell. “It is great to feel connected and be able to provide information about our distance learning classroom while also providing guidance regarding school work and what a typical school day will now look like.” Mitchell notes his class is working via a virtual model classroom and will incorporate additional packets of schoolwork to students, as needed.

Mitchell is excited about distance learning, as it will allow him to continue to interact and stay in touch with students and families. His message to families is one of reassurance and teamwork. “I want students and parents to know that we have your backs. All of the teachers have the students at the forefront of their thoughts, and we are working hard to present engaging and fun opportunities for continued learning.” Mitchell notes he is currently working on a video message to students, welcoming them back to school through the distance-learning classroom. His ball python, John Ralphio, affectionately known as “JR” to his students, is also making an appearance in the message. This is an engaging and interactive example of the new normal for teachers, and students, throughout Humboldt County.

Messages from Teachers to Students & Families

“I want to keep growth happening but also realize the struggle of not everyone having internet access or other hurdles. I think keeping a flexible requirement for parents will allow them to adjust with their day to day but also give them support in the weekdays to educate their students.”
Maricela Resendez, Teacher, Washington Elementary School

“This crisis has really brought our staff together. The work we did together so quickly was amazing.” -Michelle Mayo, Science Teacher, Zoe Barnum High School

"We miss all of our students and wish that we could be together to experience learning. Right now, we are staying positive and working to create the best learning experience during this unique time. This is an opportunity for students to take the first step toward their future education at Eureka City Schools. We will learn how to use this program along with the students and build a virtual community."
Love, Mr. DeHart, Ms. Fanucchi, and Mrs. Hernanadez, Teachers, Washington Elementary School

“The highlight of my day, yesterday, was helping an anatomy student with their virtual lab. Maintaining connections with the students will help get us through this difficult time.”
Tera Sanchez EHS Science/AVID/Student Government

(Written by Micalyn Harris)

Teacher prepares for distance learning from home kitchen

Pictured: Holly McLaughlin, a kindergarten teacher at Alice Birney Elementary, works hard from home to prepare for student learning.