Going on week six of extended learning, the Belton ISD community has grown accustomed to practicing online education due to the extended closure of the district to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, or the coronavirus. Therefore, we thought it would be interesting to get the perspective of the newest teachers emerging throughout the district: the parents.
Last week, we took a look at the elementary perspective, so this week we asked a mother of two secondary students questions regarding her response to the district-wide transition to online learning and how her household has been impacted by it.
Maura Ortiz is the mother of Alexander, a junior at Belton New Tech High School at Waskow, and Daphe, an eighth grader at South Belton Middle School. Maura’s responses to our questions are as follows:
CP: Has the curriculum provided by Belton ISD teachers for secondary students proven effective in keeping your children’s minds active?
MO: “It gives them something to do, but they are finding other ways to keep their minds active.”
CP: Because the secondary levels practiced one-to-one device learning before COVID-19, meaning all students should have access to a technological device, how have your children responded to an all-virtual education?
MO: “They both have responded well. They enjoy that it has allowed them to get the work done quickly but are both missing the social aspects of learning that they get from being in class with their peers.”
CP: How much time do you spend administering schoolwork per day?
MO: “I work away from home during the day, so the only time I help Daphne is when she needs help with algebra, which is what would normally happen if school was still meeting. And then it’s probably once a week to two weeks, anywhere from just a few minutes checking her work to 30-60 minutes helping her understand the concept(s) and completing her work.”
CP: How much time do your children spend completing schoolwork each day?
MO: “Alexander: three hours; Daphne: 2-2.5 hours.”
CP: What has been the most challenging aspect of this transition for both you and your children?
MO: “Alexander’s MacBook & Daphne’s iPad have both given them issues. Alexander has had battery issues, and Daphne’s Schoology and other apps [are] crashing or not working.”
CP: What, if any, supplementary activities (Zoom meetings, alternative online learning resources, etc.) have your children’s teachers provided?
MO: “Alexander: Zoom, Remind, Google Meet, Google Docs with links to all the assignments. Daphne: Zoom for choir a couple times and Zoom for history once a week.”
CP: When Belton ISD returns to school, would you like online learning to continue to be incorporated into the curriculum?
CP: Has this heightened your interaction and relationship with your children’s teachers?
MO: “No, I have had no interaction with them during this time.”
CP: How are you keeping your children excited about learning during this unprecedented time?
MO: “They are both self-driven, so neither I nor my husband are having to keep them excited about learning; they take care of it on their own.”
CP: If there is anything you would like to add, please feel free to do so!
MO: “To be honest, I was torn about this at the outset. On the one hand, I wholeheartedly agree with wanting to keep our children & BISD employees safe. On the other, I was disheartened at the thought that the extended spring break would turn into an extended summer, and I didn’t want that for our students. I was very thankful that my assumption was incorrect and that the district implemented the extended learning during this time. It is not a substitute for school, but at least it is something to help keep the students engaged in learning. I really do appreciate all the work behind the scenes that has and will continue to take place to have this offering.”