Starting Monday, teachers throughout Maryland will be getting an education on how to do their jobs in the new reality of online learning.
The head of the teachers union in Baltimore County said her members are anxious about what is a very uncertain time, as school administrators react to the coronavirus pandemic.
Cindy Sexton, president of TABCO, the Teachers Association of Baltimore County, said next week the county’s 9,000 teachers will be meeting online with their principals, and will be receiving videotaped guidance from the Division of Curriculum and Instruction.
Sexton said this is such a paradigm shift that teachers have a lot of questions.
She listed a few: “What are the expectations going to be? How am I going to do it with taking care of my own family? What am I going to do about those students who just aren’t engaging in it at all?”
Also, what is online instruction going to look like?
Sexton said next week will be for professional development for county teachers.
“They have not seen the plan or the requirements yet, so it’s a very uncertain time,” Sexton said.
The county plans to begin online teaching April 6. This follows the announcement earlier this week from State School Superintendent Karen Salmon that public schools throughout Maryland will remain closed through at least April 24, as Maryland battles to control the coronavirus pandemic. Schools initially were closed for two weeks, starting March 16.
Teachers have not been required to interact with students during this time. That will change April 6. But Sexton said some teachers have been reaching out to students anyway.
In an interview on Wednesday, Baltimore County School Superintendent Darryl Williams commended those teachers.
“They’ve done some great work,” Williams said. “They’ve thought outside the box.”
Multiple challenges lie ahead, including teaching children with disabilities, making sure students and staff have access to online learning, and figuring out how to get printed materials distributed.
“Everybody needs to be patient as we learn and we work through this,” Sexton said. “It’s new for everybody. Let’s give it a chance to work out and see how it goes.”