Madera Unified’s Approach to Distance Learning
By Oracio Rodriguez, Jesse Carrasco, and Linda Monreal, Area Assistant Superintendents
AS WE APPROACH the end of the 1st semester in the 2020/2021 school year, distance learning has proven that our staff is hard-working and adaptable due to the many daily challenges they face and persevere. From internet connection issues to digital platforms being completely down or not running properly, our staff is finding ways to be creative to meet the needs of all students. Principals are working hard with their staffs to make sure teachers have the tools they need to foster the success of all students. Teachers are continuously learning new methods for teaching and students are being very adaptable so that their learning continues. Teachers are provided the extra planning time they need to appropriately plan and develop lessons. They plan lessons collaboratively so that lessons are well thought out and properly implemented. Teachers are continually learning how to better utilize technology to support their teaching and student learning. With appropriately planned lessons and appropriate use of technology, teachers are emulating the lessons and projects that would have taken place originally with an in-person setting.
Our staff is reaching out to parents and making connections with them in several different ways. Communication with parents and students occurs often utilizing ParentSquare, emails, phone calls, and in-person home visits. Our goal is to make sure that students are engaged in school so that their learning continues in an accelerated manner. School sites have established office hours to ensure that students have access to materials and books or to exchange technology when it is not working. Parents are encouraged to contact their child’s school whenever there are issues with technology, instructional resources, or if they just need help in any manner. Additional staff has been deployed to sites to help with answering phones, making calls, distributing homework materials, or with any other help that is needed. All district staff is going above and beyond to ensure our students and parents receive the help they need.
Distance Learning has not put a stop to our co-curricular programs. Social-emotional learning (SEL) is taking place so that students are making a connection and commitment to their school and to their learning even in the distance learning platform. SEL helps students with being positive to self, others, and tasks with enhanced self-efficacy, confidence, persistence, empathy, connection, and commitment with a sense of purpose. Visual and performing arts instruction continues with lessons being taught in Music and the Arts. Music teachers are using new interactive programs to help teach music remotely so that music concepts are engaging, interactive, and fun. Music students are able to play and record music and exercises for their teacher to receive immediate feedback that guides and directs their comprehension of music instruction. Secondary art students have access to online art instructional materials that are designed to supplement and provide additional resources to their curriculum. In addition, physical education instruction continues so that students continue to be active with physical activity.
Distance Learning has proven to be significantly challenging. Our district staff has taken on the challenge and are working hard to meet the needs of students in terms of their academics and social-emotional well being. Their efforts are very much appreciated and we are grateful that our students and families understand where to go for help and are receiving the support they need. Together, as a community, we will grow from this experience and continue to provide our very best to Madera Unified.
MUSD staff coordinating distance learning via Zoom.