by ConVal School Board Member Kevin Pobst
Each May, as sunny days multiply and the end of the school year is just around the corner, sustaining students’ attention to schoolwork becomes more challenging.
A recent survey of ConVal parents and teachers reflects this annual phenomenon, but also shows that there is still a high level of student engagement with their remote learning activities – 80% of parents and teachers say that students are “engaged” to “highly engaged” with remote learning.
The latest survey was sent to parents and teaching staff on May 1; more than 900 responses were received. ConVal Superintendent Kimberly Rizzo Saunders has summarized the survey results in her “Weekly Update” sent to families and staff on May 8th. You can see the Weekly Update by clicking here.
Good Communication; Manageable Workload. The May survey reports parent and staff responses to multiple-choice questions and records “comments” that respondents add to provide detail. Parent and staff responses to questions about teacher-student communication have been substantially favorable and consistent with results from the first version of the survey administered in early April. Parents give high marks to teacher-parent communication and the teachers express appreciation of good communication by Administrators. Most parents feel that their children are managing the workload for classes, with 85% of respondents sharing that their children were managing “well” to “extremely well.” The shift to four days of instruction has been positive for most families as well as for teachers. Most parents find the challenge-level of assigned work to be appropriate, though, consistent with the April survey, some parents feel there is too little work or that the work is too easy, while a similar percentage say the workload is too heavy and the work too difficult. Additionally, some parents have asked for more small-group or one-to-one interactions with the classroom teacher.
Isolation. Parents were asked to identify areas of additional need. Emotional support for students was far and away the highest priority for parents. Their added comments highlight the social isolation children are experiencing. Some parents are seeking more resources to address children’s social-emotional needs and mental health as well as more online supervised social interaction opportunities for students. In immediate recognition of the need expressed the ConVal school counseling team reviewed emotional support resources that could be recommended to parents. Lists of those resources are available on the ConVal website through the “Remote Learning” tab at convalsd.net.
Technology Challenges. Another parent concern is for support with the remote learning technology. A low, but important, percentage of families still have problems in connecting to the remote learning platforms and in using the various tools. Comments about technology indicate connectivity issues when multiple family members are online, as well as a need for more information about using digital resources, especially Google Classroom. The convalsd.net “Remote Learning” site has information on use of remote learning tools. Despite our best efforts, which have included deploying hundreds of hotspots from both Verizon and US Cellular, internet access continues to be a challenge for some families. Access to devices is growing, as is the ability to stream videos.
If You Need Help. Superintendent Saunders emphasizes that if a family does not have access to a device or the internet to please reach out; ConVal will work with each family to attempt to resolve access and device issues. Also, if a child is struggling academically or emotionally, she encourages parents to communicate directly with their child’s teacher, school counselor, or the principal for suggestions for help.
As Kimberly Saunders noted in her conclusion, “We Are ConVal, and we are ready, willing, and able to assist you as we wind down our school year.”