Schools have been closed throughout Washington for about a month now and remote learning is well underway in most districts. But, just as students are missing their teachers, teachers are also feeling disconnected from their students…and are finding creative ways to connect with them (from a distance) all over the region.

Going the extra mile for smiles

At Battle Ground’s Prairie High School, life skills coach Alison Weddle wanted to help ease some of the stress and tension that she’s noticed since our schools are closed, so she hatched a plan: she would wear a full chicken costume while helping to distribute Chromebooks to primary school students! The small gesture helped bring smiles to the faces of children and parents alike. Take a look at her cute costume on Facebook.

In La Center, the La Center Middle School Math team made this fun video to kick-off distance learning in a way to make student’s smile! Watch the video >

Teachers share that they care

Implementing distance learning has required teachers to think outside of the box when it comes to connecting with their students. In several districts, teachers have been “coming together” to create photo collages to let students know they are cared for and missed:

And some districts used video to share their messages:

Lyle School District

Woodland – North Folk Elementary

Teachers are also thinking of creative ways to share messages directly to their students. Jemtegaard Middle School eighth grade history teacher, Scott Rainey, penned a powerful letter to his students as they began distance learning. Rainey used compassion for his students and his love of history to provide perspective and hope through the COVID-19 crisis. His words were broadcast on local radio station XRAY FM-Portland/KXRW-Vancouver thanks to volunteer radio producer and WHS para educator, Barb Seaman. Listen >

Getting social with story time

Many elementary and middle schools have been featuring their staff and teachers on social media reading stories to their students. This gives students the opportunity to see familiar faces and provide necessary learning opportunities. In many cases, the books are shared in the videos allowing students to follow along…just as if they were in the classroom again with their teachers.

Castle Rock School District has featured story time with various elementary teachers including first grade Teacher, Mrs. Kruckenberg.

In Ocean Beach, Ms. Housley from Hilltop Middle School has been sharing Facebook Live videos featuring “The Call of the Wild” read aloud where she reads and reviews chapters in the book. Watch the latest video >

Even smaller districts are getting involved. Roosevelt School District teachers are reading books aloud on Facebook Live and Stevenson-Carson Superintendent has been reading various stories and poems including Jack Prelutsky Poetry. The Wishram School REACH program has been reading stories on Facebook Live to students as well. One parent responded, “The boys loved watching and hearing the story. They both miss you.”

“Woodland Reads,” the well-loved in-school reading program in Woodland, has moved to an online format where staff from around the district, including Superintendent Michael Green, have volunteered to each read a chapter a day.

Last, but certainly not least, The Washington School for the Deaf features videos on social media tagged #operationASLstorytime, where teachers and staff sign stories for their students.

Teacher parades

In some districts, teachers have taken to the streets in an effort to “see” their students again and show those students just how much they are missed in the classroom. It’s been a great way for families and educators to connect while still adhering to social distancing measures.

Ridgefield students made signs for their teachers as they drove by.

On Thursday, April 9, teachers from Union Ridge Elementary School paraded through their students’ neighborhoods in decorated cars with music playing while waving to cheering families safely spread out along the route. One parent said, “Seeing the big smiles on everyone’s faces when the teacher parade arrived in our neighborhood was amazing!” Read the article >

In Vancouver, staff members from Felida Elementary School took to the streets for their own parade! Led by an engine truck from Clark County Fire District 6, teachers and other staff drove their cars along bus routes to say “Hello” to their students. Watch the video> 

Extracurricular activities continue to thrive

Without being able to gather at school for after school activities and sports games, many teachers and students are finding ways to continue their efforts while staying at home.

In Camas, a team of students produces Skyridge Network News, a daily newscast at Skyridge Middle School. In an effort to maintain the newscast during school closures, they’ve produced the show’s first at-home edition, which includes students and teachers broadcasting from their homes. Watch the newscast >

At Evergreen Public Schools, music students are given the opportunity to perform during “EPS Porch Concerts,” part of a nationwide campaign organized by music educators. The idea is to give music students (and distinguished alumni) a creative outlet during the ongoing coronavirus quarantine and to uplift broader school communities with music during this uncertain time. Watch the videos >

In Washougal, Middle School Track & Field/Cross Country coaches Tracey Stinchfield and Megan Lambert are running a virtual training program to encourage students to keep training even though the season has been cancelled. The website offers a training plan for students to follow and healthily work towards being able to run a 5K. Students are also encouraged to post workouts they’ve completed.

How are you staying connected?

Maintaining connections with our students in many different ways is very important…to both students AND their teachers. Have you done something different to stay connected? Tag @ESD112 on social media and let us know what you’re doing!