AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Several school districts have begun the school year partly online and partly in the classroom. Others have decided to teach kids 100% online is the way to go. Either way, learning to teach outside the classroom is turning teachers back into students. The South Carolina Department of Education and Augusta University are offering strategies to support educators with virtual instruction.
“We just need to get them comfortable with learning new tools, knowing that it’s not scary, and recognize all of the things technology can do for them,” said Dr. Stacie Pettit.
The virtual classroom is becoming the new norm for students and a new challenge for most teachers. There are some concerns about how students will be engaged in this new environment. Dr. Pettit is an associate professor at AU. She says when teaching from a distance, lean on other experts for help, have an interactive classroom setting and keep it simple.
“Don’t get so bogged down with having all the bells and whistles that have you have to learn all at once,” said Dr. Pettit. “Pick one that works, and do it well.”
Pettit teaches future middle school educators for the two-state. She says there is a teacher shortage, and the pandemic could potentially add to it. She and other professors at au are making sure their students are multiskilled for the position.
“Not only will you get hired first because you are prepared to teach in the environment,” explained Dr. Pettit. “Also, teachers are leaving the field because they don’t want to expose themselves through face-to-face instructions.”
Most rural counties have moved to 100% online models until further notice. Those areas have limited access to the internet. Pettit says teachers should have a balance of online and paper instruction to serve all students.
“What’s the same as someone driving up in a hot van and sitting there trying to do their school work; versus someone with wifi at home,” said Pettit. “The achievement gap exacerbated in these times.”
The AU professor says Augusta University will continue opening its doors to help teachers develop unique lesson plans to keep students engaged.
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