Pivoting to a virtual classroom

Our mission at Springboard Collaborative is to close the literacy gap and, in some ways, this gap has never felt as wide as it does now. In the face of these unexpected challenges, we wanted to know how schools are responding. So, we decided to sit down with a superintendent and hear from him.

Below is a one-on-one interview between Bill Clarke, National Growth Officer at Springboard, and Dr. Royce Avery, Superintendent of Manor Independent School District in Manor, Texas.


Bill Clarke: How has it been leading a district during this unprecedented time?

Dr. Avery: It’s been pretty crazy. We had two employees test positive for COVID-19 and trying to communicate that out and trying to create next steps for educating kids and cleaning buildings. 


BC: I wanted to get your thoughts on how your district is dealing with the new virtual teaching strategy.

Dr. A: We’ve been out since Spring Break – since March 13th – so we’ve kind of weathered the storm a little bit. Now we’re just trying to maintain. We really weren’t ready to do much of [virtual instruction] and so we’ve kind of rolled it out very, very slow. We’ve done a lot of just online programmatic things and we’ve had programs, online books, and things like that that we’ve just kind of flowed out to our families.

It really hasn’t been a real full-fledged online process. We just looked at the online programs that our families were using already and expanded upon that – a little bit of this and that.  This week we’re working with teachers in assessing their families and in serving their families to make sure of the availability of internet and devices. Where those don’t exist, we’re finding ways to provide technology and wi-fi.

The issue is not only having internet access but do they also have devices? So, we’re in the process of taking that survey data and mobilizing some things to really make sure one, that families have access to wi-fi or internet and two, when they don’t have access to a tech device, providing that.


BC: So, let me ask you just from an intellectual but also from a leadership perspective, what are some predictions that you might have around reading loss for students K-3 and or ways to overcome reading loss during this time?

Dr. A: I think most families can access online books for the reading platform that our families are already accessing anyway during the school year. It seems to me a little easier to access reading materials and curriculum than it would be to access math content.  Reading would be a great way to engage families.

That being said, while I think we’ve got the tools, I don’t think we have a framework that works yet to engage families to make sure their kids are learning.  We’d benefit from something like a research-based framework to truly make it all come together. We simply don’t have that yet and we don’t know if our efforts are working.


How Springboard Collaborative can help

Springboard is offering free resources to both teachers and families along with Springboard Connect, a web-based app, for free.

Along with these resources, Springboard is offering free consultations with district leaders and principals to design simple school-wide strategies that facilitate family-teacher collaboration (in pursuit of achieving reading goals) as we enter this strange world of distance learning.

We know these are challenging and unprecedented times; Springboard is here to help however we can.

We are in this together.

Madhuri Mannava is a Partnership Development Director at Springboard Collaborative. She comes from a family background that always stressed the importance of education, but recognized this was a privilege that others do not have. She has been a tutor, worked as a teaching assistant, and pursued an MBA in social impact.