Looking Virtually Forward

Looking Virtually Forward

It’s an interesting time to be a teacher. I can remember in January of 2020 talking to my class of 5th-graders about the global pandemic engulfing our way of life. I already was teaching about wearing masks, how to make masks, and why it would be socially acceptable to wear a mask. I remember the look on their faces when I explained that wearing a mask would help to save their grandparents. They were all in. Even in my little world, we knew the Covid-19 pandemic was going to be a game-changer.

Here we are over a year later and the administration is scrambling to safely reopen schools. Teachers are preparing classrooms and getting vaccinated, while families are figuring out how to manage the return to the schools safely. But one thing hasn’t changed: We are still a team of people who fundamentally care about children and the community we live in.

It’s interesting how many times I’ve been asked in the last few weeks, what I see as the future of education post-pandemic? What’s it going to look like come next fall? What will the classroom be like?

Some teachers say they are going to bring their newly found tech skills into classrooms when they return, while others plan to leave it all behind. So when I was contemplating what I’d like to do, I realized that while my future still would involve tech skills, I wanted to do something more.

This year, I was fortunate to have been selected to work as a Supervising Teacher for the new PVUSD Virtual Academy. It’s a K-12 virtual independent-study school that teams administrators, teachers, and parents to provide resources and independent courses of study for students. I knew this combination could be powerful, but I was blown away at just how powerful it has been. The Virtual Academy is literally a poster child for teamwork makes the dream work.

Thinking about my virtual classroom’s future led me to search for solutions that would encourage parents to get even more involved in their children’s education. And that’s when I found Oakland REACH.

Parents in Oakland, Calif., have started a movement, and I think it’s going to bring powerful change and reform to the California public school system.

The Oakland REACH built a Citywide Virtual Hub in the Google Classroom platform. The Hub put parents in the center and gave them the tools and space to be leaders in their children’s learning.

Wow! Just wow! The Oakland REACH and its Virtual Hub have changed the face of education in Oakland. But I think it could and should have a wider impact.

When I’m envisioning my ideal school year for next fall, what if the Oakland REACH program teamed with the PVUSD Virtual Academy? Can you imagine what a game-changer that would be for students?

We’ve shattered so many educational norms over the last year, why can’t these two school districts team to bring a platform and a groundbreaking resource together?

I’m wondering if the Virtual Academy could be the go-to resource for the Oakland City Schools Oakland REACH program? The families involved in the Oakland REACH said they don’t plan to return to the in-person classrooms, but they haven’t created or found the virtual program they envision. It would be an ideal opportunity for the PVUSD Virtual Academy if the two districts can agree.

One of the greatest strengths of the PVUSD Virtual Academy has been parent involvement. We’ve seen the impact it has had on student education, student voice, and testing data. I can’t help but wonder if this parent-driven Oakland REACH program model might be beneficial for the Virtual Academy, as well.

So, that’s my vision for the future: A partnership of two school districts working in tandem to blend the ideal virtual educational system with the ideal parent-involvement group. Imagine the beneficial change that could bring to our educational system in California. Wishful thinking? Maybe, but change can happen, just look at how much we grew this past year.

 

Sources:

https://oaklandreach.org/

March 8:

https://edsource.org/news-updates#oakland-nonprofit-school-district-awarded-900-000-to-keep-growing-city-wide-virtual-hub-

https://edsource.org/2020/virtual-learning-hub-led-by-oakland-parent-group-aims-to-continue-in-fall/637651

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