California Educator

August/September 2021

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Page 45 of 75

Experiences during distance learning shape educators' approaches to supporting students By Julian Peeples Pandemic Perspectives "Being at summer school is reminding me how much I missed it and how much these students need us in person," says continuation high school teacher and San Bernardino Teachers Association member Jade Smith. "I really hope we can take what we learned last year and carry it forward." Across the state, schools are opening in person for the school year after 18 months of uncertainty, and educators are eager to use their experiences of distance learning to support their students as they emerge from the pandemic. e sudden move to a virtual environment left many edu- cators feeling like first-year teachers again (and some actually were!). Others experienced pandemic learning as learners also, completing advanced degrees and certi- fications virtually and gaining firsthand insight into the challenges their students faced. "Distance learning was a real stressful experience," says science educator Stephen Gorgone, who virtually c o m p l e t e d Ne xt Ge n e ra t i o n S c i e n c e Standards (NGSS) certification at UC Irvine. "Distance learning is hard — it's hard to focus, stay engaged, and it takes a lot out of you. e experience gave me a lot of perspective for my students, and I changed things after that." The learning never stopped ough classrooms and school buildings closed in March 2020, the learning never stopped for students and educators alike. In addition to teaching English and career technical education (CTE) at San Andreas Continuation High School in San Bernardino, Smith completed two courses virtually for her CTE credential 44 Teaching & Learning Jade Smith

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