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Safely Back to School: ‘It’s game on’ in Three Rivers

Superintendent ready for virtual learning this year
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Posted at 7:54 PM, Jul 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-29 21:13:08-04

THREE RIVERS, Mich. — The teachers at Three Rivers Community Schools are ready to go for the fall.

They underwent a week-long training to learn about how to command a classroom through a computer screen.

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“A lot of the training was how do you engage kids differently from having them in front of you face-to-face,” said superintendent Ron Moag. “It’s game on right now.”

Moag said the training was conducted by Communications by Design, a company that specializes in virtual teaching and learning. Teachers and Moag were trained on how to create and facilitate small groups with students and how to help them one-on-one.

Pete Grostic, director of Communications by Design, said it’s all about engagement.

“We talk about individual meetings with students, the importance to still speak with them on the phone if they can’t connect in this way,” Grostic said. “The importance of small-group instruction because it’s not just the teacher-student connection. But of course, one of the big missing pieces for students during the shutdown was a deep meaningful connection with peers.”

Grostic said during the shutdown their workload skyrocketed with so many districts opting for virtual and remotely learning. They trained at least 700 teachers in June and July.

He said it’s also about coming up with a tangible plan for all students to succeed.

“There are districts that are doing learning packets at home and coupling that with a flash drive that might have video content from the teacher on it,” Grostic said. “Those flash drives can often be plugged into a television or some kind of device — even if it’s not internet connected at home, they can use that too.”

Moag said one thing they’ve done at Three Rivers Community Schools is make their parking lots Wi-Fi accessible. So, parents and families can drive up and use it at anytime.

“I went a step further, and we have two basically multi-use vans that athletics teams could use or we can use, small groups. We outfit them with hotspots,”Moag said. “We strategically put them in the morning and afternoon in different parts of our community where we knew we had pockets of folks who just weren’t going to have the access.”

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Moag said parental help is crucial during this time.

He said he doesn’t know exactly what the future may hold. However, he feels his teachers are prepared to handle whatever may come.

“These are challenging times,” Moag said. “I think we’ve done a great job of adopting a flexible mindset.”