eLearning at BCS
Several years ago, Bethany teachers and administration developed an eLearning model to use for snow days and other cancellations. Before the coronavirus pandemic that disrupted the 2019-2020 school year, teachers and students were all familiar with at least some version of online learning. However, being known individually as part of a community is what makes the Bethany experience unique — so how do teachers continue fostering those connections from a distance?
Staying Connected Through Conversation
Different teachers answered this question in a variety of ways. Fifth grade teacher Linda Hochstetler decided to keep up with practicing accountability in the classroom, as well as checking in about things beyond academics. She sent a daily email to her class of students (and their parents) outlining the schedule and expectations for the day. She also had students fill out a Google form each morning not only for attendance, but to ask how they were doing.
In addition to these conversations, each day began with the whole class on Zoom for twenty minutes, reading a book with Linda. Usually the book touched on emotions or dealing with life events, which then led to more class conversation
about what was going on in their lives.
“We talked a lot about being quarantined,” said Linda. “That then led to conversation about what can’t be quarantined – God’s love, time with family, and things like that.”
Another project that fifth graders worked on was creating a toolbox for coping. They filled their boxes with things that calmed them, comforted them, reminded them of someone or something or had other special meaning. They then shared their boxes with the class through videos.
Linda says that these activities allowed the class to discuss things they wouldn’t have otherwise, and to continue working on building relationships with each other and their families outside of the classroom. “I felt like I was able to maintain my connection with the kids,” she said.
Staying Connected Through Music
The high school concert choir continued to sing together through virtual arrangements. Director Brody Thomas put together videos of the choir members singing and shared them with the Bethany community. These songs allowed students and faculty to come together for even just a few minutes, sharing together in song.
“I really wanted to make it seem like the choir was together again, singing with each other,” said Bethany choir director Brody Thomas. “I hope this visual of us singing together was a symbol of optimism for a time when we can be together again. I hope it was a boost to us all and a testimony to what music can do for the vibrancy of our Bethany community.”
Watch the virtual choir here: