For one minute and 30 seconds, the Sunny Hills community affected by a district-imposed school closure in response to the coronavirus pandemic got a glimpse of what distance learning looks like.
From the teachers’ perspective.
On the first day students had to stay home instead of coming to class on March 18, Sunny Hills officials produced a video of instructors in their empty classrooms using various online tools to instruct their students.
“I wanted to appreciate all the hard work teachers are putting into this transition,” principal Allen Whitten said.
Whitten and Sylvia Kaufman, assistant superintendent of instruction and assessment for the Fullerton Joint Union High School District [FJUHSD], worked on the video by going around different classrooms on campus to see which educators chose to come to campus to set up their distance learning assignments.
(Based on an agreement between the FJUHSD and the teachers’ union, instructors were given the opportunity to work from home if they chose to.)
“School closures are happening around the country, and I can’t think of a school that has responded as well as we have in this way,” said Whitten, who took the pictures while Kaufman did the videography.
The video’s content shows about 26 teachers and how they are communicating with their students through their devices. Upon completion, it was posted on the Sunny Hills Facebook page https://bit.ly/2J4fKyY for any follower to click and watch.
One of the first to appear was Theory of Knowledge and English 3 teacher Scott Rosenkranz, who can be seen setting up his computer for his class.
After school officials posted the video on the Sunny Hills Facebook page, Rosenkranz speculated on its impact on students.
“Are they even on Facebook anymore?” he said. “I think it was a nice gesture to let the community know that we’re working together with smiles on our faces, though.”
Of the 13 comments under the Facebook post, many praised the hard work and commitment of the teachers.
“This is uncharted territory, and witnessing the structure of today’s class activities and seeing my kids engaged is a testament to all your hard work and efforts to adapt quickly and continue teaching our children,” wrote Christina Trujillo in one of the posted comments.
Brenda Moons-Houlihan was another of the respondents: “I continue to be amazed at the commitment and dedication that Sunny Hills teachers and teachers all throughout our district pour out to our students.”
Whitten said he wants the community to see real, live shots of how the school is handling the district-imposed classroom closure. Parents who may not know what “remote learning” looks like are informed through the video.
“I don’t think a lot of school districts in this country can pull this off,” he said. “But here we are [handling this] in such an impressive way.”
Science teacher Kathy Bevill, who was also featured in the video, acknowledged that adapting to technology in such a short amount of time was stressful and hard to manage.
“I have changed my scope and sequence to accommodate the online learning process,” Bevill said. “I miss the interaction with my students very much.”
Despite the challenge for teachers to adapt to teaching students online, Whitten so far has sensed that students are even faster at making such adjustments.
“One student said he liked his online version of his class over the regular classes,” he said. “I had a lot of good feedback from teachers as well.”