Virtual Classrooms: The Why and How Behind PCA’s Remote Instruction
Why the transition?
It’s our mission. Though these are trying times for all, the mission of PCA remains steadfast: to deliver a Christ centered education. It is no coincidence that our core value focus this year is Compassionate Community, which we define as “service and love in action.” As a school, we have been given an opportunity to show compassion and serve one another in ways we never would have imagined. Through this lens of compassion, we continue to find new ways to partner with our families to provide an excellent, Christ-centered education.
How is instruction delivered?
Instruction at both the Lower School and Upper School is delivered through a blend of synchronous video conferencing, pre-recorded instructional videos, threaded discussions, and online work assigned and distributed through Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Veracross.
In grades K-12, we continue to give assignments and grades, and have chosen to focus our efforts on identifying the essential learning for the remainder of the school year. This allows our teachers to reduce the workload and lessen the number of graded assignments during distance learning, without reducing the quality of the learning. In addition, this approach allows for a Friday shift so that we can limit screen-time at the Lower School and offer opportunities for community building at the Upper School.
At the Lower School, teachers use Teams to conduct morning meetings and class sessions every school day. In addition to class instruction, many research-driven resources have been made available for free to our student body including Dreambox, Lexia, and other resources that further support math and reading skills.
At the Upper School, Teams allows the faculty to maintain the structure of our traditional classrooms in a virtual environment., whether it’s hosting virtual office hours, meeting for Socratic seminars, or pre-recorded video instruction. In addition to support from their teachers, Upper School students have support from the deans who keep an eye on missed assignments and have regular check-ins with students.
Even in Preschool, instruction continues with the goal of providing preschoolers with an opportunity to continue their learning of God’s word and world, nurturing their social relationships and connections, and building academic skills and concepts. In addition to worksheets, art projects, and resources sent home to families, Preschool teachers produce a circle time video for each day, which include teaching new skills, telling bible stories, completing weather reviews, checking the calendar, and sharing songs and stories that build on numbers, letters, and rhyming skills.
Who is involved?
Everyone! It’s all–hands on deck. We’ve worked to realign positions and responsibilities for PCA faculty and staff to ensure that individual students who are struggling are receiving the support they need, whether through check-ins or one-on-one support. Furthermore, we’re working to offer students a full school experience that extends beyond the virtual classroom walls, which requires a creative team!
Teachers are going above and beyond to be available to students, from 1-1 chats, phone calls, small group live sessions, and even doing drive-by home visits to deliver school materials and say hello… from 6 ft away, of course!
We are all experiencing life as never before; students, parents, and teachers are now faced with new social, learning and work constructs. In 10 years, students will not remember what they studied or learned during the COVID-19 shutdown of 2020, but they will remember how they felt. Our prayer is that they will feel encouraged, motivated, and safe… not stressed, frustrated, or lonely. We cannot control much, but the way in which we teach, nurture, and communicate can and will always be through the filter of compassion.
Are you looking for a school with compassionate community at its core? Portsmouth Christian Academy is now enrolling students in Preschool through Grade 12 for the 20-21 academic year. To start the conversation, visit this link.