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Is it possible to build meaningful relationships with students (from a distance)?

September 11, 2020 Sarah Williamson By Sarah Williamson
Distance learning

In our 17th episode of Opportunity Thrives, a podcast committed to better supporting the needs of today’s secondary students, we explore this very question.

We know that education leaders are doing all they can to ensure the safety of students, teachers, and staff for this fall. For many districts, that has meant starting off the year with fully virtual learning programs.

In fact, as of September 2, 73 percent of the 100 largest school districts, have opted for remote learning only as their back-to-school instructional model. That means more than eight million students in urban city centers are learning solely online this fall.

We know this shift to fully virtual learning has brought with it many challenges for educators, students and their families. And as we all learned this past spring, building relationships with students is critical to the success of our virtual programs.  

Kerrie Torres, the Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services for the Brea Olinda School District in Orange County California, joined us for this episode to share how her district is providing opportunities for educators and students to connect in a meaningful way.

With more than two decades of experience in education, Kerrie has successfully leveraged digital curriculum to keep students on track with intervention and remediation programs. Her experience lends itself well to supporting student success in what has become a vastly virtual world.

Kerrie shares their district’s plans for the fall and how she believes there are still opportunities to connect with students in a unique way using digital curriculum. Even though the relationships with students looks different this year, staying flexibility and creating new learning options has been the key to their success.  

Today Brea Olinda is meeting the needs of all students through virtual learning. No one has experienced a pandemic before, but Kerrie shares that there have been silver linings. Families are adjusting to a different schedule and lifestyle, and in some cases, having access to digital curriculum that’s relevant and rigorous and meets their needs, has given students newfound confidence.

They work with their teachers during the day and are able to log in later at night, managing their own schedules. This flexibility has really allowed many families to take a deep breath and provided students with the opportunity to set their own pace for learning.  

Getting teachers up to speed was not easy, but the district worked hard to prepare them. They created a series of webinars and training videos, provided in-person preparation days throughout the summer on how to use different platforms, to connect their technology, troubleshoot, gather ideas, and problem solve with grade-level partners.  

She gets to the heart of the question posed by this podcast about where or not she believes educators can build meaningful relationships with their students, even from a distance and how she thinks schools are going to continue to evolve now and well into the future when (hopefully!) the pandemic eases.

This is an episode you do not want to miss! If you are enjoying our podcast, we would love it if you would leave us a review on Spotify or iTunes, or whatever platform you choose to listen. The full episode is available here: https://opportunitythrives.com/is-it-possible-to-build-meaningful-relationships-with-students-from-a-distance/.

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