Tech Team and Mr. Clementi Transition Staff and Students to All-Virtual Classroom
Chelsea Nakhleh '21 and Carissa Canzona '21
12 November 2020
Students and staff have become more reliant than ever on the Tech Team and their services following the increased need for virtual teaching during the 2020-21 school year. Due to this increased demand, the Tech Team has provided assistance to students and staff, created tutorials on programs used during remote learning, and streamlined their Help Desk in order to ensure a smoother transition into the virtual classroom.
Overseen by Assistant Principal of Humanities Dr. Jared Fowler, the Tech Team consists of Mr. Brad Ottino, Ms. Daria Leidig, Ms. Jamie Picarelli, Mr. Kevin Haimowitz, Mr. Randall Sanders, Ms. Lori Quail, Mr. Matthew Youngberg, Mr. Michael D'amico, and Ms. Pia Vanderstreet. The teachers on the Tech Team, which was created in 2017 and work with Network and Computer Systems Coordinator Mr. Chris Clementi, are knowledgeable in technology and help their colleagues and students with any computer or technological problems. The Tech Team is constantly searching for ways to improve in order to better serve the Passaic Valley community. “Teachers like having us as a resource,” stated Ms. Picarelli, an original member of the Tech Team, “knowing there's a group of ten of us they can refer to when they need assistance.”
The Tech Team prepared for the 2020-2021 school year throughout the summer. In August, the Tech Team began teaching staff and students the protocol for the upcoming year. They assisted incoming freshmen and new students with setting up their school emails and connecting their laptops to the school network. They also held development workshops with the purpose of familiarizing teachers with Google Classroom and Google Meet.
The Tech Team has had to overcome many obstacles and alter many of their normal protocol for an all virtual learning model. They have attempted to make themselves more available, which has proven to be a challenge over the past few months. “The most challenging part of being all virtual is addressing the needs of teachers,” said Mr. Sanders. “When we were in the building, we could easily go into their room and address their problems. With being all virtual, it's a lot harder.”
Mr. Clementi, has worked to make the transitions from in-school to virtual as smooth as possible. Bringing the experience he gained from his work in other schools, he devised a solution in hopes that it would help both staff and students receive answers to their questions. He and the Tech Team implemented an “ask” service. When teachers or students email firstname.lastname@example.org, shortly thereafter a member of the Tech Team answers their questions or concerns. “It’s a way to make sure that both teachers and students are attended to,” says Mr. Clementi. “It has been going pretty smoothly so far.”
This past year, the Tech team has produced numerous “how-to” tutorials for teachers to utilize. When the Tech Team notices a common issue among teachers, they share solutions with tutorials posted to the staff Google Classroom page and through mass email to ensure all teachers are comfortable with the online setup. These workshops range from how to create breakout rooms via Google Meet to how to link bitmoji to Google Classroom. It is extremely convenient for teachers to be able to find a direct video addressing their problems. It also helps to ensure the Tech Team is not constantly addressing the same issues.
As helpful as the Tech Team has been, there are many problems out of their reach. Issues with WiFi, connectivity services, and weather are not within the Tech Team's jurisdiction and unfortunately the team is unable to help as much as they wish. “It’s definitely a learning curve,” said Ms. Picarelli. “Many issues are out of our control, yet they impact a teacher's ability to function.”
Though both students and staff have experienced hardships with the transition to a virtual classroom, the Tech Team has used their knowledge and experience to make the process much smoother. As the Tech Team is constantly searching for ways to enhance their skills, the virtual class and virtual teaching experience will improve, with the hope that eventually all students and staff will be confident and comfortable in their technological abilities.