Distance Learning Plan Brisbane School District

By: Ronan Collver, Superintendent, Brisbane School District, rcollver@brisbanesd.org

The Brisbane School District has transitioned from in-person traditional education to distance learning due to the current COVID-19 Pandemic crisis and students are not permitted to gather at a school site. Distance Learning may come in a variety of formats with the goal of engaging the students in academic standards and connectedness to our schools. Teachers decide how to deliver instruction, just like they do during typical days.  We acknowledge distance learning cannot substitute for daily in-person instructional programs. While our educators are eager to engage with students and help advance their academic and social-emotional learning, we recognize that student-teacher and student-student interactions at a distance are not equivalent to the invaluable social interactions that foster learning within our normal school setting. Still, we are committed to partnering with our families and community to make the best possible learning experiences under our current circumstances of forced separation.

The Brisbane School District intentionally uses the term “distance learning” to describe our plan rather than “virtual learning” or “online learning.” This choice is based on two core ideas. We recognize that across grade levels, students have differing levels of access to reliable technology and the internet as a learning tool. Second, we assert that quality learning can and does happen remotely with and without computers. That said, we have seen that technology can be a powerful learning tool and that virtual collaboration platforms help maintain a degree of the connections felt among students within a traditional classroom. Training and preparation time for teachers prior to and throughout distance learning emphasize effective ways to utilize both digital and non-digital learning resources and techniques.

The vision of the District includes implementing our regular yearlong plan and maintaining continuity in the student’s education. Instructor presence is important to make online learning successful and to help students feel connected and safe. We refer to this as SYNCHRONOUS learning where the student and teacher are both present in the learning session at the same time. Teachers will utilize ASYNCHRONOUS learning during a portion of the day. Asynchronous learning is a general term used to describe forms of education, instruction, and learning that do not occur in the same place or at the same time. This video presence posted by the teacher allows students to connect with the teacher’s image and voice even though they are not present at the same time.

Student engagement and accountability will be done through daily/live contact with students five days a week. Student must maintain active engagement; if engagement drops, a support plan will be initiated to assist the student and the families. Student scores should be evidenced by a portfolio of work as well as the use of frequent formative assessments. While present with students, it can be much easier to determine which students may be struggling with new learning.

As this is a very new way to educate our students, teachers will be working as a collaborative team and sharing ideas and build off of each other’s successes. Teachers will work together to create engaging lessons and activities for the students. We will continue to embrace the Brisbane School District’s educational philosophy by continuing to make learning relevant to the lives of our students by incorporating choice, collaboration, feedback and hands on learning. Each teacher will hold “office hours” which as specific times during the day to be available via Zoom for parents or students. Students could check in if they have questions about assignments – or if they just need to see and hear their teacher.

Small group instruction will still take place as students who are learning virtually still need to make connections with others. When teachers create some of their assignments as group work, students are able to experience the continuity of their relationships. It can be more meaningful to assign students to smaller groups to review and comment upon each others’ work. Smaller groups are also more effective at ensuring that all students participate equitably.

All teachers and staff look forward to having our students back on all of our school sites and in the meantime, we are fully committed to all of our students and all of our families to create a positive learning experience. Please stay in contact with your child’s teacher and school administration if necessary and let us know if we can help improve your child’s education.