The challenges of distance learning for Allie Becker of The DePaul Catholic School in Philadelphia, PA, and her students are all too familiar. Families with no technology in their homes, parents stretched thin as they support multiple children at home, children not connected to the learning platform — these are just some of the challenges Becker faces. But Becker, a veteran Springboard Collaborative teacher, used her experience in engaging and partnering with families to navigate these typical challenges in an atypical way.
First, Becker addressed the immediate needs of her students. “I tried to eliminate some of these barriers by mailing student work, posting assignments on social media, and texting pictures of worksheets to parents on a daily basis.”
But while working with her students’ families, Becker realized these weren’t sustainable solutions. Instead, she started working with her school to get all the children Chromebooks as well.
With technological barriers addressed, Becker began to tend to the emotional fires of distance learning. She says while there was no simple solution, she found that “constant support, flexibility, and guidance eased those parents’ minds.”
Becker set up a daily communication log about student progress, goals, and next steps to keep parents in the loop but not overwhelmed. She emailed them Springboard Collaborative resources and reading tip sheets.
“Without the knowledge I gained through Springboard, I would not have known how to navigate such an unpredictable road map.”
Distance learning has caused all teachers to pivot – and quickly. Becker and hundreds of Springboard Collaborative teachers knew what direction to move toward because of their strong partnerships with parents–partnerships that Springboard gave them the tools to build and strengthen.
Navigating family-educator relationships hasn’t always been this easy, though. Becker remembers she was “shaking in her boots” as she looked out at the families in her first family workshops. But through the constant support of her Springboard Collaborative coach, Danielle Mancinelli, and lots of practice, she was filled with “warmth and happiness” as she hosted her last workshop. She knew, as she looked out at the full classroom, that she has formed meaningful partnerships.
Those meaningful partnerships are now paying dividends as we all chart these new educational waters. While the education world continues to search for answers, Becker has her anchor:
“Springboard’s emphasis on partnering with parents has changed the way I will teach and care for relationships forever.”
Allie Becker is a Kindergarten teacher at DePaul Catholic School. She was a Springboard Engage Fellow during the 2019-2020 academic year.