Old Meets New
What happens when a global pandemic forces us to take our entire classical and Christian program online?
With only a few days lead time, our teachers trained to use Microsoft Teams for Education, a powerful online platform that makes it possible for all of our grades–kindergarten through grade 8–to post assignments, to schedule real-time video classes, to conduct individual and small group conferences, and even to use the computer touch screen as a virtual whiteboard on which the teacher and the students can write and erase simultaneously during classroom instruction.
“Students and teachers can use the computer touch screen as a virtual whiteboard to write and erase simultaneously during classroom instruction.”
It would be misleading for me to give the impression that this transition happened without challenges. Learning new technology can be intimidating, and its propensity to glitch seems to rise in direct proportion to the urgency with which we hope it does not. I heard the sighs of teachers, took a few calls from overwhelmed parents, and felt the anxiety myself.
But we did it. With a collective “can do” attitude, our entire community rose to the occasion. By the second day, the teachers reported that attendance in virtual classes was nearly perfect. Students engaged in real-time instruction, even learning new material and concepts. The art teacher reported a student turning in an assignment ahead of the due date with other students commenting, “That is beautiful!” Another teacher presented optional math challenge problems, and when a student finally solved the problem, other students were heard saying, “Way to go!” Parents organized online recess gatherings and everyone pushed through real obstacles with wide-ranging degrees of triumph. Woven throughout the challenge of converting to this new way of learning, we saw the common themes of an eagerness to learn about the world God has made and a joy in learning in relationship with teachers and classmates. Strengthening our community in a time of isolation was an unexpected outcome during a period of great uncertainty.