Starting the school year remotely adds a substantial layer to a season that is already complicated for students, families, and teachers. Along with, “Do we have the supplies? Do we know the schedule? Do we have the lesson plans?” comes the question, “Do we know how to use the technology to teach, learn, or provide support with the greatest success?”
TGS faculty and administrators teamed up to address this new stressor by offering a variety of sessions to help everyone become comfortable with our remote-learning technology and to use it to its fullest potential. The team focused on supporting three groups: fifth grade, sixth grade, and all new students; parents and guardians; and faculty.
Offering “technology boot camps” to all new students is crucial to their success at TGS: Our teachers and administrators understand that this may be the first time these students have used some or all of these tools. Providing new students with the training they need before school begins will help alleviate new-student jitters and enable new students to start school with knowledge of the same technology as their returning peers.
Beyond this, the team chose to offer technology boot camp to all sixth grade students, whether new or returning. “We know that the transition from elementary school to middle school can be overwhelming, especially this year, and we want the students to be comfortable from day one,” teacher Allycyn Jacobs explained. “We created the sixth grade technology boot camp in order to provide students a fun way to learn the technology they will need to create success during the first week of school.”
TGS faculty and administrators then decided to extend the technology training. “Beginning the school year online is a departure from normal, and with all new things there is uncertainty,” teacher Katie Patt said. “We are offering parent boot camps in order to start us off in a place where everyone feels more in control and confident.”
Families are welcoming the opportunity to learn more about the technology their students will be using and to be better able to support their students during remote learning. “We're delighted that so many of our families have chosen to participate in these sessions,” head of school Dr. Julie Sherrill said. “Our hope is that the technology boot camps will help us all get off to a good start with our remote learning, while ensuring that members of our community feel welcomed, connected and informed.”
The team also realized that they could help one another, and developed several short workshops to share their knowledge and experiences. For example, director of technology Andrei Henriksan and teacher Allycyn Jacobs led short classes on Zoom features for teachers. Teacher Helen Reynolds offered a session on applying cognitive science research to online learning, and Allycyn Jacobs taught faculty about Chrome extensions. Dr. Erika Gallo led an interactive workshop on asynchronous online discussions.
With the training sessions in place to make everyone more confident, teacher Katie Patt said it well: “We are excited for a great year!”