Teachers, parents and students across the state experienced a rough introduction to remote learning at the end of last school year, when COVID-19 forced schools to close for an undetermined amount of time.
Now, in the midst of the following school year, teachers and schools have had time to improve on the remote learning process. But that doesn’t mean problems and issues have been resolved.
For that reason, the Berlin Community School and Home Association has set up an online event for Oct. 26 aimed at assisting both parental guardians and students with remote learning and technology through a teacher-led workshop. The association plans to host the virtual event monthly on different topics.
Association President Lil Graham said the first topic for the teacher-led workshop will be the current state of education in New Jersey and how it can best be navigated by parents and students.
“We plan on doing different topics monthly, but we figured it made the most sense to start with remote learning and technology tips for parents, since it’s still near the beginning of the school,” Graham explained. “Maybe students are struggling and some parents may be overwhelmed with all the different platforms and apps that the school uses.”
The first workshop will be led by one full-time remote learning teacher and one in-person instructor, both of whom will work with parents and students on outstanding issues they may have since school started last month.
Berlin Community School currently has five-day, in-person learning, unlike how other nearby school districts operate. About 35 percent of students are currently in full remote learning, according to school administration.
“We thought that this would really help bridge a gap that may still exist,” said Graham. “Because I think it’s really hard for kids to be teaching their parents how something works.”
Kelly Jo Stroemel, one of two teachers who will lead the workshop’s first event, currently instructs students through both in-person and remote learning methods. She said while great resources have become available in recent months as a shift in learning occurs, it can become difficult to make sure all involved are familiar with using remote technology.
“Because of remote learning, all these application developers really got on the ball and made all these resources for us to use, but that gets very overwhelming for everyone,” Stroemel explained. “I think it’s so important we make sure we answer and support our parents with any questions they have, because even though learning may have been hard before, that technology piece is making it even more difficult.”
Michael Ford, who is typically the Berlin school’s STEM teacher but has transitioned to fourth grade classes for remote learners, will also assist parents in the association workshop.
“The transition from in-person to remote learning certainly brings about some challenges, not just with technology, but also with providing some tutorials and platforms for various applications that we use,” he said. “We want to be able to lend a little bit of support for both parents and students on how to stay organized, how to navigate all the applications that we use and more. I feel like it’s a great collaboration piece for teachers and the community to connect through and come together with.”
The first workshop will take place via Zoom on Monday, Oct. 26, starting at 7:30 p.m. More information, including how to register for the event, can be found on Facebook at the Berlin Community School and Home Association Facebook page.