Coronavirus pandemic: Tampa Bay teachers prepare for remote learning

Coronavirus

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – With schools closed to help “flatten the curve” during the coronavirus pandemic, Florida teachers are on a steep learning curve as they prepare to teach from home.

“This is the way we’re going to teach for right now and we’re gonna do it to the best level that we can,” said Lauren Thibault, a fourth-grade teacher at Northwest Elementary School in Hillsborough County.

Thibault says that while some educators are more tech savvy than others, high school teachers who use technology in the classroom have more often been helping out elementary school teachers during this transition week.  

“It’s been a lot of zoom meetings, a lot of technology, but its also been a lot of support teachers coming together that don’t even know each other,” Thibault said.

Hillsborough Schools has handed out more than 50,000 devices to families of students to ensure they can access lessons.

“Every single student in my class now has a device to be able to access the learning next week,” Thibault said.

Thibault said she won’t be grading assignments until Monday. Right now, she is focused on introducing the technology to her 18 students.

“For my students it was about getting in, seeing how to upload things,” she said. “It’s been a lot of troubleshooting today.”

Thibault set up a white board in her office, which reads, “Welcome to e-learning with Ms. Thibault.” The board has all of her students’ names on it.  

Thibault and other teachers will be using Zoom to interact with students. The service is typically for video conference meetings.

“Through Zoom, we have the chance to share a screen with them so the students can see exactly what’s happening on the PowerPoint and that’s what we’ve been doing in class, so it’s going to feel very comfortable for them,” she said.

The Hillsborough School District is also using Edsby as part of digital learning outside the classroom.

Edsby is a platform where teachers can share links, documents and quizzes with their students.

“That allows us to do so many different things,” Thibault said. “There’s messaging tools so we can communicate with parents and students by sending them quick messages.”   

While she is adjusting to this new norm that is unprecedented in public education, Thibault said she would like to return to her normal classroom as soon as possible.

“If something happens, I want my students to feel like these past couple of weeks are not just fluff assignments and there’s something that’s given them a sense of school and giving them some engagement,” she said.

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