LONGVIEW, Texas — It's been a complicated year in education. School districts are balancing the pandemic with the best way to reach students and ensure their success.
Many schools have suspended remote learning, but Longview ISD decided to only move away from asynchronous education.
At the beginning of the fall semester, Longview was one of those districts that offered it all to students — on campus, synchronous and asynchronous learning. On October 19, all of their students, with a few exceptions, are learning in real-time.
"We always want what's in the best interest for the student and we know that safety is top priority, so we want our students to feel safe. We want them to be safe, but we also want them to learn and be educated, as well," Carla Brown, Longview High School Assistant Principal, said.
So, Longview ISD moved away from the asynchronous model, which basically allows students to learn online on their own through teacher videos.
"For us, it's our asynchronous students that are not doing well, or as well as our synchronous students are. They [synchronous students] are in lockstep with their teachers. You know, if they have a question, they can ask, but they have to log in. You know, first period at home is 8:30. Second period is 9:50. So there, it is just kind of hard to keep up with the ones that are doing things on their own," Brown explained.
Carla Brown, an assistant principal at Longview High School, explains the benefit of going fully synchronous or physical. "Real-time feedback, they can ask questions, as opposed to asynchronously, if they had an issue, and they got to a stumbling block, they didn't have anyone to discuss that with," Brown said.
Teachers tell us sometimes those students learning from home don't feel comfortable reaching out when they need help.
"The synchronous part is helping because I can see all of them," LISD teacher, Sharon Collins, said. "Because asynchronous kids, I might never come in contact with them, just on the computer in the classroom. So, if I have a question, I can email them or call their parents."
Sharon Collins teaches 5th grade at Ned E. Williams Elementary. She has 19 in the classroom and 8 at home, which she says actually helps with social distancing and keeping the classroom safe.
When you look at Longview ISD's numbers as a whole — they started off the year with 2,135 asynchronous learners and 1,047 synchronous learners. Currently, they have 1,501 in all learning synchronously, yet virtually with their classmates. Longview's total enrollment right now is about 8,300.
2020 has certainly been a lesson in adjusting for teachers too. "Recording your lessons, so that you could then post it in your classroom, then you have to get your classroom assignments together to make sure they're posted, grading papers online, as well, both papers that you collected in the classroom. So it is a balance," Collins said.
But after 21 years in education, Collins is more determined than ever to reach children and make sure they're getting the education they need, whether in the classroom or live through the computer screen.
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