The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how we live, work, and learn. This is the first of an occasional series that will look at our new normal in the COVID-19 era.
BLENHEIM — Blenheim Middle School of Discovery teacher Keydareon Graham went into uncharted territory this summer with several other teachers.
The group taught students during the Summer Learning Academy for Marlboro County School District for students grades K-8.
Each morning for three weeks, Graham arrived at his classroom, got his laptop ready to log into Google Meet to greet his students.
Graham was in the classroom but his students were in their homes.
A seventh grade math teacher at BMSD, he has been teaching for three and a half years.
“This is uncharted territory,” Graham said. “I was very nervous to do any kind of learning on a digital platform.”
But working with the academy has been rewarding for him because he saw how students were engaged with lessons.
“I am seeing the successes of the digital teaching that we have been doing since March,” he said.
The Summer Learning Academy was from July 6-27. It was from 8 a.m.-noon Monday through Thursday.
The day started with Graham doing a social-emotional learning curriculum during the first 20-30 minutes so he could see how the students were doing.
Make sure they are doing okay before we jump into the curriculum.
At 8:30, they went into their English language arts component, which will last until 10. They get a 15-minute break. Then it was time to do math and then a daily wrap-up.
Graham utilized Google Meet as the platform where he could see the students and they can see him.
Everyone could interact and he shared his screen so they see the lesson.
And students were able to see their classmates so they have student-to-student conversation. It is similar to Zoom.
As the learning academy progressed, Graham felt more comfortable.
He was using the new textbook for math to give himself experience and give the kids exposure to see how they will do with it.
“I am also seeing how the students are buying in and they are relating to the new layout,” he said.
Graham could see it being the normal school day where the teacher is at the building every day while students are online.
He admitted he didn’t think there was going to be a summer school this year.
But all of this has been new for Graham and other teachers in the district. Before this, he had never experienced a Summer Virtual Learning Academy or finished a school year online.
“The district and state education administration have shifted the visual of how education will look,” he said.