Right now, everything is unpredictable and challenging. Teachers are faced with unprecedented challenges when providing our students with the best education possible during a pandemic. But in true BVSD teacher fashion, with compassion and caring, they have done an incredible job of making it work the absolute best way they can. Whether they are new at teaching or have taught for over 20 years, they have truly gone above and beyond expectations.
“This is my 17th year in education and it kind of makes you feel like it’s your first year all over again,” said Charity Crim, 2nd grade teacher at Superior Elementary. “You’re really trying to think intentionally on the most efficient, innovative ways to present information so online kids can get the same information your in-person kids are getting, and just creative ways to do that.”
With little research or information on how to successfully bridge the experience between students in 2 physical locations, BVSD has sought to become a leader in both best instructional practices and technology in what is now being called “HyFlex instruction”, or teaching students both in school and at home at the same time. BVSD’s Information Technology Department created REVAS (Remote Education Video Audio System) to help with HyFlex instruction that allows teachers to see and hear all students together during one class.
“The benefit is that these kids can just continue to learn at home as if they were here,” said Amy Mendelsohn, 2nd grade teacher at Superior Elementary. “I like that they feel like they are part of a classroom community. I like that they can ask me questions. I like that their parents can be working and that they are doing this independently and I’m in charge of them during that time, so I think that’s probably really great for their families.”
The goal is to make sure kids at home and kids at school are getting equitable instruction and attention. Teachers are working diligently to build relationships and a sense of companionship between the students.
“I’m in my 21st year of teaching and we know what our classes are supposed to look like, but they don’t,” said Broomfield High School Chemistry Teacher Kay Davidson. “I think having REVAS in the room is wonderful for our kids and to make sure that we include everyone. I think the idea of connectedness is very important. We have wonderful teachers in our building who use REVAS in wonderful and innovative ways.”
Although the REVAS system has been helpful, adapting to new technology while teaching can be very stressful, not to mention during a pandemic when health and safety linger in their minds on a daily basis.
Teachers have done the best they can to support each other as they learn this new way of teaching. Reaching out to fellow teachers for support is not new, but now it involves discussions about camera angles, switching between online presentations, making students at home feel connected, and considering students who do not want to be on camera. Discussions are also heavily focused on the pandemic and the constant concerns that come with that.
“I want to acknowledge all of the teachers for not only the incredible work you’re doing and the amount of hours you're putting forward to create an ‘as great as it can be’ learning experience for our kids, but also for sharing your experience with your colleagues,” said Katie Mills, BVSD Director of Professional Learning. “We’re all learning so much right now.”
BVSD teachers have handled in-person and home learning with patience and grace. The district wants to recognize the incredible amount of time and commitment our teachers have given during this ever-changing situation. We can’t thank them enough for their creativity, innovation and caring that they show each and every day.
“You just name it, our teachers are working so hard to do everything they can to support our kids, said Kiffany Lychock, BVSD Director of Instructional Practices. “We are really, really proud of our staff and the way they are working. The collective commitment to making things work as best they can for kids in this district right now is phenomenal. I can’t say enough things about our teachers and building leaders right now. They are doing amazing work.”