SEATTLE – Schools are closed and classrooms are empty, but it doesn’t mean the value of teaching and learning has stopped.
Educators are getting innovative and using tools like Zoom to hold video conference classes regularly, and one of them could be the cutest one happening in America.
“What we’re trying out now, what we’ve been doing for the last two mornings is an online preschool,” said Chris Williams, a teacher at Alcuin School. “It’s very, very different. I mean, when you’re doing a preschool you have focused time on the rug then they go off and choose everything. Here, it’s like all focused so we only go for about 45 minutes at a time.”
Claire McGowan’s son is a student in Ms. Williams’ class.
“We’re only going a little bit stir crazy here with three boys at home,” McGowan said. “She’s still having them out of their seats doing physics games, rolling around the floor, singing and jumping up and down.”
McGowan said it’s the cutest part of their day, and said she appreciates the semblance of normalcy it provides for her son and family.
Ms. Williams said she is grateful to have a job during this time of crisis, when tens of thousands of Americans have applied for unemployment.
Williams is teaching her students for two hours each morning.
“I’m singing and they’re all just kind of watching the screen, and they’re not singing back to me because they’re not used to interacting with the screen,” said Williams. “The great thing about it is, I can mute them when I’m reading a story which I cannot do with kids sitting, I can just turn the mute button on. I have peace and quiet to read the story because they have babies crying in the background and siblings and everything.”
Older teens enrolled at 911 Driving School in Marysville are also continuing their Driver Education through Zoom video conference.
The owner Peter Barrett describes the online course as complementary to the one that happens in-person.
“One thing that was really cool was other states actually called and are starting to use this because they’re encountering the same problems now,” said Barrett, who said instructors at his school are all police officers or emergency responders.
“By the time COVID-19 passes and when that gets under control, we’re going to have a serious backlog of students and literally bring everything to a grinding halt in this industry,” said Barrett.
He hopes continuing classes online will help alleviate some of the slow start up we’ll face once the number of cases begin leveling off and showing a decline.