Staying connected

Teacher and students stay connected through design work

One of the many changes that students and staff have made since distance learning began is not seeing their classmates and teachers every day.

“My students miss the classroom and each other, as well as me,” architecture and interior design teacher Christine Ireland said. “We become a family each and every year, especially since we spend so much of our day together.”

Like so many teachers these days, Ms. Ireland is using Google Classroom and Google Meet to stay in contact with her students. She has scheduled times throughout the week when students can reach out to her.

“The hardest thing is peer-to-peer interaction and consistency," she said. "Our students with IEPs really need in-person connection to meet their specific learning styles."

In-classroom meetings enable students to work on other skills in addition to those relating to architecture and design. Having a routine, being able to make eye contact and receive emotional support are all important.

“The lack of classroom routine that has been developed over a long period of time is difficult to mimic as a parent," Ms. Ireland said. "Kids also learn and support each other in classrooms. And that's also difficult to do at home."

Her seniors are concerned too: “It's very sad. My seniors are so anxious about their futures and where they are going and how next year will look," she continued. "During our meetings, a lot of my time is spent helping them process these changes and work through them in a healthy way."

Among the assignments she has her students working on is their annual “Shark Tank” challenge, which they completed since distance learning began. Students were required to create an invention. Usually a panel of judges, personally selected by Ms. Ireland, critiques the students’ work. This year, she was the sole judge.

“Students came up with timely inventions that were great,” she said. "Among them were ways to get take-out without contact through apartment windows and apps that allow you to be social and connect with others virtually based on interest.”