Online teaching shows to be effective, while some teachers ready to return to class

The Florida Department of Education is in the process of deciding whether students should return to class in the fall or stay online.

Two Lee County we spoke to Thursday say they are ready to get back into the classroom. Both of those teachers lit up talking about what they miss the most — interacting with students

But Lee County’s online student engagement — that means logging in online for classes or picking up paper packets — has stayed up to 98 percent. That’s basically attendance, phone calls and overall getting the work done. They say that means something is working.

From the classroom to their living rooms on their laptops, teachers at Lehigh Acres Middle School said they learned to teach by Zoom, email and phone calls with their own kids.

“She was actually at that desk right there doing her classwork while I was doing my classwork right here,” said David Smith, who teaches eight-grade physical science at Lehigh Acres Middle.

And, now, it’s with students in their own homes.

“I feel like I learned a little more about them,” said Winstana Watson, an eighth-grade language arts teacher at Lehigh Acres Middle. “They’re at home with family. They’re a little more relaxed. They’re a little more focused, probably because their moms in the next room.”

School District of Lee County made a checklist for teachers, one other districts also adopted.

“It was simply can you access your email; can you access a Google classroom?” Rob Spicker explained, a District spokesperson.

It’s not always easy when a tech problem comes up.

“A student would text me or email me saying, ‘I don’t have internet, or this is not popping up,’” Watson said. “’My screen’s giving me an error message.’”

IT immediately assists that student after an email from the teacher. But, in some ways, teachers told us it mimics college learning.

Smith’s online science lab took off.

“We had to put our showman hat on,” Smith said. “As teachers, you have a lot of hats.”

“The pro of this: I do think it actually helped them become more tech-savvy,” Watson said.

Another pro: The District told us early data on student retention shows even more students than in past years have completed the work and will move onto the next grade. But the District is waiting to get all of the data back.

The last day of school is Wednesday, June 3.

Reporter:Anika Henanger
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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