Take advantage of online education
The Anchorage School District has further postponed reopening schools in person as the city and state are overwhelmed by the coronavirus.
That means remote learning will extend indefinitely. It can be hard on parents, but teachers and administrators want to help.
Here’s what some Anchorage educators recommend for a successful, unconventional school year.
Communicate, communicate, communicate. All agree: If you’re having issues with technology, time management or anything in between, contact a teacher, principal or English Language Learner (ELL) specialist from your school.“If the problem is that you don’t have time to participate in Zooms during the day because you’re working or because you have many kids in the house trying to do the same thing at the same time, talk to teachers,” said Daniel Salazar, the principal of Fire Lake Elementary. “Communication is one of the most important things in this situation because if the teachers don’t know what problems you’re having, we can’t resolve them.”
Use online translation and dictation tools. Julie Santaella, the principal of Government Hill Elementary School, recommends using Google Translate if you can’t understand your child’s homework. “There is also a Google Chrome extension called Read & Write that will read the text to your child if you highlight it,” she said. This extension works for digital assignments only.
Translate the district website, too. To see district updates and resources in Spanish, scroll to the bottom of the asdk12.org website and click on the white box on the right-hand side. Select “Spanish” from the list of languages (Note: the content might take a moment to convert.) To change the website back to English, scroll to the top right-hand side of the page and click “Options,” then “Turn off translation for this site.”
Organize your time and space. Santaella said that having an organized schedule and clear routine can make all the difference. “Try to get in control of all the things you can — your schedule and your physical space — because everything is up in the air,” she said. “Because when you feel like you have more control over those things, you feel a little better every day.”
Maintain motivation. If you have little kids, Salazar said, incentivize them to finish their online lessons. “For example, if they want to do something fun like watch TV, you can tell them, ‘After you work for an hour, I’ll let you watch TV for a half hour,” he suggested.
Zoom with Karim Otaegui. Otaegui is the Spanish language and cultural liaison for the Anchorage School District. She hosts Wednesday Zoom calls for Spanish-speaking families each week to help them get configured for remote classes. Recently, she’s been focusing on older students. “I know that some parents are having issues with high school students. So I’m following up on small groups for high school students through Zoom, especially with math,” Otaegui said.
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Teach your kids good hygiene habits. Eventually, students are going to return to the classroom. Salazar said it’s good to practice healthy habits with kids now, like wearing a mask, washing hands and social distancing. That way, when it’s time to go back to school—̶whenever that may be-- they are ready.