With Options Schools closed until May 1 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our educational structure has transitioned to eLearning. With all Options students, teachers and administrators working from home, we wanted to share some blog posts on how the change has been going for different members of the Options family.
Next up is Steve Bowers, social studies teacher at Options-Carmel since 2017! Yesterday, Stacie O’Flaherty (Options-Noblesville science teacher) provided an update.
How has the transition to full eLearning been for your students?
Steve: The students have been resilient, if somewhat hesitant. We are charting new waters for a lot of them, and they just need to get comfortable with the new format. The students are still involved, producing high-quality work, being engaged, asking questions, just like in their school classrooms.
How has the transition to full eLearning been for you & the rest of the Options-Carmel team?
Steve: I believe we have all done very well making the transition, having the built-in eLearning Days already for our half-day/full-day Professional Development’s has helped us be ahead of the curve, unlike some of the bigger school corporations. Personally, I have taught virtually before so it was a pretty easy transition for me (and from conversing with my colleagues, for them as well). We have been sharing different ideas, apps, websites, resources to make the transition that much easier for the entire staff.
What has been the most successful part of eLearning thus far?
Steve: For me, seeing the students be able to embrace it. Some students have a natural fear of the unknown (we all do), but this was something that they were able to take in stride and still be successful students. The continual conversations that I and the other teachers have with our students via the different social media apps, emails, texts, phone calls, etc, it’s just like we see them in hallways and have a nice little conversation with them. Its “business” as usual, just in a different location.
How are you staying connected with your students during eLearning?
Steve: I text, use google hangouts, email, and make some phone calls. I will leave comments on the assignments I grade, just simple things, like “nice job,” “keep up the good work,” “hope you and your family are doing okay,” “let me know if you need anything.” Things like that. It sounds cliche, but we are family and our students really, really buy into that here. We need to make sure that we continue that in this particular time of uncertainty.
What have you been doing to keep to a routine while teaching through eLearning?
Steve: Well, to be honest, I don’t get up as early as I did, as my kids are home as well and I don’t have to take my oldest to band practice. But what I do, I make sure I get dressed like I’m going into work. It’s fine to sit in your shorts and t-shirt, but that can be distracting. I put on clothes that I would wear to work. I don’t sit near my desktop, as my games and other distractions would be calling me, I set up class hangouts to correspond to the time I would actually have class. I connect with my teacher friends, like I would at school, eat lunch at the same time. Just to make myself realize that I am still at work.
Have you & your family been doing anything creative at home to stay active?
Steve: Well, my kids go for walks/play outside. My youngest (7th grader) has to do ‘Just Dance’ for his Gym class. My oldest (10th grader) is constantly practicing his bassoon or saxophone. We have family dinner, play board games, etc. Sometimes we do separate because being cooped up for an extended time period can be grating on your nerves, especially if your father is a history teacher and you are a teenager.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Steve: Just that as bad as it is, and while it’s bad and may get worse, if the scientists are correct, we will get through it. We have a unique school that takes care of each other. We have the ability to do the right thing for our students and staff, and we are doing so to help our students because we believe in them. They know they belong to a school that cares for them and together we know they will achieve because we believe in them.
About Options Schools
Serving students in grades 6-12, Options Schools are free, public charter schools with brick and mortar campuses in Carmel and Noblesville & a new campus opening in Westfield in August 2021. Options also offers additional programs that serve students throughout the state of Indiana (serving over 90 school corporations). With a high-quality, individualized approach, Options was founded in 2002 and specializes in providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1.