By Donald Gilpin
The schools are closed and empty, but remote learning is taking place with increasing intensity and purpose at the Princeton Public Schools (PPS). Technological devices like PowerSchool Learning, Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Instagram, social media, email, and the telephone have replaced the desks, classrooms, and white boards of the PPS.
“It’s all about flexibility right now,” said Princeton High School (PHS) Principal Jessica Baxter. “We’re all learning and changing and evolving. It’s a minute-to-minute situation. These are unprecedented times.”
Early this week Assistant Superintendent Annie Kosek said, “Our teachers are finding creative ways to engage students through activities like virtual morning meetings, small and large group chats, live and videotaped lessons, funny motivational videos, ‘spirit days’ like Crazy Hat Day, and teaching in a Google Hangout. Learning is often best as a social experience, and our teachers are striving to maintain social interaction despite our current state of social distancing.”
Teachers and librarians are holding story time, which apparently has a calming effect on both students and their parents. Teachers are sending emails and making personal check-in phone calls, and administrators are staying connected through messages, songs, magic tricks, and daily food for thought using online platforms and social media.
“With only one or two days’ notice, our lives changed,” Baxter wrote in a letter to families on March 19, after the first three days of remote learning. “As educators we were told we had to work from home and teach our students remotely. As parents we were forced to figure out child care and the home schooling of our children in addition to either still having to go out to work or work from our homes. Our students and children were told they couldn’t come to school, see their friends, play sports, be children. Some kids became caregivers and children for younger siblings in addition to being full-time students themselves.” more