Greensboro teacher finding new ways to keep students engaged through online learning

Coronavirus
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GREENSBORO, N.C. — Online teaching and learning is something students, teachers and parents won’t get rid of anytime soon.

Governor Roy Cooper announced schools won’t be meeting in person for the rest of the year. 

Not only is this change impacting students and parents, but teachers as well. 

Mike Albert is learning a lot about what it means to be an educator.

“It comes with its own bag of challenges,” Albert said. 

The Grimsley High School AP English teacher is constantly trying to figure out how to keep his students engaged at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I realized after a few days, this wasn’t going to work,” Albert said. “I ended up going to a completely different approach. 

He’s learning from his own two kids’ online learning experiences.

“I think it’s frustrating. It’s like a new thing that I haven’t experienced before. So it’s kind of tricky to know what’s going on,” said Albert’s 3rd grade daughter, Amalie. 

But Albert is also looking at what his students are doing during the online school day.

“There are some that are just kind going to hit Fortnite and do that sort of thing,” Albert said. “But there are some that are bored enough to do the work.”

He knows their education is not going to be the same.

“There’s a huge fear about exacerbating the achievement gap. We talk about the slide happening over the summer when kids lose a lot. We’re embarking on a really huge summer,” Albert said. 

This is not what he had in mind when he became a teacher 16 years ago.

“[Online teaching] is palatable now because I had two-thirds of the year to build relations and rapport with the students,” Albert said. “If I didn’t have that, I don’t think they’d be putting as much work in as they are, nor would I be as motivated to read all of their stuff and comment on it and so forth.”

Albert’s choosing to look at the positives like the extra down time reigniting the love of reading and writing.

“Many of [my students] are saying this is the first time since elementary school that [they’re] reading a book that [they] want to read. They’re rekindling that joy,” Albert said. 

He’s now focusing on what’s really important: keeping all of his kids curious.

“We’ve moved away from the competitiveness and grading. I’m not giving them a number of their assignments. I’m giving them comments and we’re having an online discussion through that,” Albert said. “Make sure you’re learning something. Whether that’s learning how to bake bread with grandma, or putting the controller down and going outside and exercising…just something.”

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