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Passaic Valley Adjusts to Online Learning

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Brianna Rodriguez '20
9 April 2020

As local governments restricted larger gatherings to limit the spread of COVID-19, school districts all over New Jersey, including Passaic Valley, began to shift to online learning. Both students and teachers are adjusting to the new remote learning model, which requires students to sign-in to their homeroom before noon and complete assignments throughout the day via Google Classroom. 

Example of online schooling from home This new online learning model is different for everyone. Some assignments are required to be written and turned in on a document, while other educators begin class discussions through video conferencing applications like Zoom or Google Hangouts. This system is a learning experience for not only students, but teachers as well.

Music Teacher Ms. Pia Vanderstreet has been hosting video conferences through Zoom multiple times a week for choir rehearsals and play rehearsals. Mr. Michael DeLuccia, Director of Bands, has also been giving virtual instrumental lessons via the Zoom app. “There are definitely challenges musically, because the technology does not exist for everyone to sing at the same time," Ms. Vanderstreet explained. "What we've been doing is having everyone work individually on their end while the teacher leads rehearsal.”

The Music and Theater Departments have even utilized video conferencing technology to continue preproduction on the Spring Musical The Little Mermaid. “The students are always excited to be on Zoom with us, we are definitely a family at PV Music and Theatre so it is hard to be away for so long,” Ms. Vanderstreet said. “I know I personally am staying positive, encouraging everyone to take this one day at a time and to keep working, because these events [like the Spring Musical] are motivators and things we all look forward to!” 

This system can be difficult, especially for educators, considering the huge contrast between in-person instruction and completing work online. English Teacher Mrs. Megan Miele is trying new things to make her lessons seem more engaging considering the distractions that arise from at-home instruction. “It's definitely challenging to try to figure out ways to make it more engaging. I’ve been able to record lessons or have students watch a video or listen to audio. Posing questions in a discussion format so students are 'interacting' with one another are some things I’ve had to think about.” Mrs. Miele noted.

It is also tough for teachers when it comes to grading assignments, considering the quick turn-around necessary for monitoring student learning. “The time I am taking to grade work is exponentially higher and that has been the biggest challenge I’ve faced," Mrs. Miele said. "As an English teacher, our grading is already rigorous and now adding in constant lessons and wanting to provide as much feedback to as many students as I can is making it harder to manage my time.” Yet, she is also finding that a large majority of her students are showing incredible work ethic that has made all the hard work worthwhile. 

According to Assistant Principal of Humanities Dr. Jared Fowler, student attendance has been better since remote model began. Students are required to sign in from home to their homeroom teacher’s Google Classroom page and click “present” every day before noon. For each student that doesn’t sign in for that day, it will count as an absence. If a student signs in past 12 pm, it will be counted as a tardy.

Online schooling Though a necessary adjustment to our current situation, both teachers and students will need some time to get used to remote learning. One of the biggest adjustments is not having a teacher present to deliver individual, specialized attention to make sure students understand the concepts. “I learn best when something is being explained to me in person or I am physically doing something," shared Aaliyah Staples '20.

This new system is working out well so far, even though students and teachers are missing the traditional style of instruction. It is certain that of the positive impacts to come out of the current situation, a greater appreciation for the work students and teachers do each day will be one of them.