“Of the 20 children in my class, 18 were not able to access the material because they did not have a device or did not have internet."
“In March, I was a full time kindergarten teacher. A lot of our kids were getting sick. COVID had in fact appeared in our building. Parents were not notified. Teachers were not notified. While we were on spring break, we were told that schools would be shut down and that we would somehow devise a plan to go virtual.
Teachers scrounged around to try to figure out how we could make it work. So, daily, we would post videos and activities for them to participate in and send back. We soon realized that a lot of our students didn't have access to the material we were teaching. Of the 20 children in my class, 18 were not able to access the material because they did not have a device or did not have internet.
To supplement, we printed paper copies of modified material and mailed them home. But we immediately found issues with mailing; some students were not receiving the packets. Not only that, the packets were not able to be returned sanitarily. In addition, parents were having trouble working with the kids on the content, and just managing that on top of losing their jobs and all the other issues that they were dealing with before. Our school was Title I and the majority of the students live in poverty.
It was eating my heart away that I was not reaching the majority of my students. The students that I particularly went to this area to teach. A lot of them were already behind grade level and needed that supplemental material and didn't have access to it. The district wasn't even making any approaches to remedy that situation. To me, that spoke great measures because I didn't want to be a part of something where they weren't actually aiming to reach the students.
Now I am the Director of aSTEAM Village, where I had been volunteering with the First LEGO League program since 2014. We have the resources to help the kids. This summer we hosted a virtual camp for middle and high school students. We met online every day for eight weeks and the students built a pinball machine, an articulated desk lamp, video games, and other projects. In the first couple weeks of orchestrating that, I realized this is where I am supposed to be, offering these types of opportunities to students who may not otherwise be exposed to them."
-- Jalisa, aSTEAM Village (September 2020),