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Tech Training: Teachers learn how to livestream lessons

Formal instruction expected to begin Monday

Mollie Schramm, left, and Dianne Eschbaugh, unbox new webcams delivered Thursday in Schramm’s math classroom at Marietta High School. (Photo by Janelle Patterson)

The veteran teachers of problem-solving, practiced solving new problems together in a math classroom at Marietta High School Thursday.

“It is very rare that one of us learns something new, alone,” said Dani Moore, after spending an hour and a half with fellow members of the math department testing out a new classroom webcam, that came in the mail and was delivered to teachers’ desks at 11:30 a.m. Thursday.

Students started online Wednesday.

The group of teachers are guinea pigs in testing out a livestream option within Google Classroom for the district, focused on engaging students both present in their rooms and watching online at the same time.

“I want to be able to interact with my kids when we’re going through these problems on the board whether they’re sitting at this desk or on their couch,” explained Mollie Schramm.

Frank Cikach demonstrates virtually to Marietta City Schools’ teachers how to use their new webcams Thursday during a training. (Photo by Janelle Patterson)

Especially with math problems — algebra, geometry, multiplying fractions, breaking down exponents, etc. — this group worried that if they couldn’t answer a student question in real time, students watching from home could lose critical opportunities to interact with their peers and teacher alike.

They tested how to hook up new microphones, noted challenges with aged laptops some have had for more than six years, and provided feedback on additional tools they’ll need in order to utilize the district’s newest purchase — HD wide-lens webcams controlled by remote and able to set specific shot angles for different white boards.

Formal instruction is expected to start Monday.

“This whole COVID process has allowed teachers to add more resources and tools in their toolbox,” said Marietta High School Principal Chad Rinard with optimism after fielding multiple calls and questions from his teaching staff over the past week of in-service professional development. “This has made them better teachers even though their stress levels are at an all time high. They’re managing three different classrooms, separate cohorts at the same time while also teaching their content.”

Three different classrooms, at the same time, with the technology only arriving two working days before formal instruction is set to begin.

Left to right: Mollie Schramm, Keith Ullman and Dianne Eschbaugh, troubleshoot driver installation with the new webcams purchased for the Marietta High School’s math department Thursday. (Photo by Janelle Patterson)

“I hope the parents and students understand that this is a steep learning curve, but come September and October if we’re still going every other week the teachers will be closer to mastery. Have patience,” Rinard said. “The teachers are growing, all of us educators are learning. They’re helping each other and taking time out of their own day to answer questions of their colleagues. They will definitely tackle this.”

For some, mastering the technology took a second look, as the group walked back through questions that cropped up during the initial training.

“It was helpful to test together so we could know what the students should see,” reflected Schramm. “With our whole department coming in here at one time or another we were learning this together and figuring out what was happening on different computers.”

For others, breaks were needed, between bouts of drinking from a fire hose, metaphorically.

“Today was overwhelming, (one of the earlier virtual session instructors) was a great teacher, but I’m going to need to go back and review, too,” said Jade Thompson, as the group waited for the technology to reload on the smart board.

Mollie Schramm works to turn on the remote control for her new classroom webcam Thursday at Marietta High school. (Photo by Janelle Patterson)

But after committing an additional hour, past the formal half-hour training provided, each of the math instructors left the room with a little more pep in their step.

“You’re talking about seasoned veterans in that room, masters of their content that teach it better than anybody I’ve known ever and still, education has definitely changed,” said Rinard. “What’s neat about this though is to see how teachers are adapting and how they’re working together. ‘Let me show you how’ is neat to see.”

The high school principal said while adjusting on the fly will be the norm these next two weeks, he is confident that his staff will rise to the challenge with their students.

“They’re being creative and using technology and learning,” Rinard said of the teachers. “We hope that the students put in as much effort virtually as the teachers are preparing the lessons and trying to integrate.”

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