How GRCSU is responding to remote learning

Just like our colleagues across the state (and world, really), educators in the Greater Rutland County Supervisory Union (GRCSU) have risen to the challenge of completely transforming the way education is delivered — practically overnight. GRCSU is responding to remote learning.

I’m fortunate and grateful to have been working with GRCSU for the past three and half years. In the GRCSU I consider myself part of the proficiency-based coaching team. And lately, much like everyone else, we’ve been honing our remote learning skills.

Have we figured it out? No way! We don’t even know exactly what will be required of schools yet. But we’ve started with what matters most:

Prioritizing communication and connection

We were supposed to have a two-day in-service this week. And yet we started to get an inkling that perhaps plans might… need to shift. Luckily, we’d already designed a teacher-directed PD model in GRCSU.

Well, as it turns out, schools closed before in-service could happen. And teachers have needed every minute to get ready for the sudden shift in direction. So we switched direction again. Here’s what we’ve been doing to support our teachers and students through this transition:

First, we surveyed staff & families

From staff, we wanted to find out what they needed, if they had internet access at home, what questions they had, and offered space for anything else they wanted to tell us. Not surprisingly, many told us they had the situation under control!  We handled individual queries one on one, and complied a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) list and began seeking answers.

Surveys went out from central office to families as well to assess technology, transportation, and meal needs.

We gathered some resources

Actually, first we collaborated to build a few guides and resources, and then decided to pull them together in one place for teachers. The website includes JumpStart Guides, sample schedules, content collections, and a calendar of live streaming education events. It’s a work in progress!

Then, we built spaces to connect

We believe that the most important things right now are promoting community and providing continuity. As GRCSU tackles remote learning, teachers are working hard to do this for students and we want to do it for them as well.

To provide some continuity of connection and nurture wellbeing, we have started a “GRCSU Staff Lounge” group on Facebook, and will be offering daily challenges to staff via SeeSaw (post a picture of your pet! what is the view from your home “office”). This will serve not only to connect us, but also to introduce a new (to some) digital tool.

We’ve also opened a ‘Virtual Helpline’.

It’s a Google Meet “room” (accessed by a static shared link). At least one of us staffs it all day. That way teachers can pop in if they have a question. The first day we only had one visitor, but already we’re seeing an increase: today, before 10am, we’ve already fielded two inquiries and provided support for some Google Classroom troubleshooting and log-in issues.

We meet together as a team for an hour each day to check in, problem solve, brainstorm, and respond to emerging needs.  We’re planning to launch virtual hangouts next week, depending on what the needs are.

Finally, our IT department has opened up the tech ticketing process to families and students so that they can access tech support if needed.

We’re sure that this is only the beginning.

Despite the gravity of the situation, we are grateful to be of service to our community at this time.

Finally, I want to take a moment to offer a shout out to ALL OF YOU!  We see you all out there doing amazing, caring, and responsive things.

We’re here. We’re figuring it out. It’s messy and uncertain. It’s changing from moment to moment. We are building the plane while it’s taking off.

But we’ve got this. Steady now.

Author

Emily Hoyler

Emily Hoyler has joined the Tarrant Institute for Innovative Education as a Professional Development Coordinator after nearly two decades working as an educator, including five years as a sixth grade teacher, and three years as the Curriculum Specialist at Shelburne Farms. Emily’s current interests include designing concept-based interdisciplinary curriculum, mindfulness in the classroom, and creating rejuvenating professional development experiences for fellow educators. Emily is a nationally certified facilitator for The Origins Program’s Developmental Designs workshops and served as a Visiting Lecturer in Education Studies at Middlebury College where she taught community-connected courses on elementary methods and Education for Sustainability. Emily lives at the top of a mountain in Ripton, Vermont, with her husband and many Wild Things, including three children, three chickens, a dog, a cat, and various other untamed critters.

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