The tech adjustments were the easiest part, Overocker said, because he’s slowly been moving to virtual platforms for years. However, he did have to strengthen his student communication and instruction to make them clearer for both learning platforms.
‘Build the reality’ of one classroom
Each class begins with time to chat and build community, seeing and sharing what’s going on in their lives and in their classroom, and small group opportunities pair virtual and in-person students “to build the reality that we are still one class,” Overocker said.
“Everybody has a different amount of chaos going on in their lives, and I need to accept that today might be rough for any given student,” he said.
To strengthen the connections with his students, Overocker offers one-on-one help and small group support during his Friday prep time. At the beginning of the year, he identifies students with similar struggles or issues and schedules a time to work them out together. Now, students are reaching out on their own to ask for help.
“It is beautiful in the way it works,” he said. “They know it is a low-risk, no judgment intervention that gets quick results.”
Parents, principal vital supports
Overocker also finds himself communicating with parents faster and more often than ever, resulting in stronger at-home support and improved student outcomes, he said.