Coronavirus Coverage from KARK

Little Rock teachers taking on extra roles to fill virtual learning gap

Education

LITTLE ROCK, Ark – More students in the Little Rock School District will be learning from home starting Monday.  

Teachers in the district are stepping up to take on extra roles in order to get students off the waitlist for virtual learning.   

“In the first of July, we more or less had 250 students who wanted to be a part of the Ignite program,” LRSD Superintendent Michael Poore said. “A week before school that number had ballooned up to almost 1400.”  

Last week the waitlist for virtual learning was around 400, Poore says now that number is 0.  

“Now the challenge is we’ve still got to staff that,” Poore said.  

Poore says he’ll find staff for the extra students by calling on current teachers in the district to do a little extra credit.  

“One of the hallmarks of good teaching and just what do as teachers is we meet kids where they are,” LRSD teacher Katie Woodling said.  

Woodling teaches special education at Fullbright Elementary School. Next week a few online students will be zooming into her in-person class.  

“Of course you thought in your head like ‘Is this really what I want to do?’ but the good outweighs the bad here,” Woodling said.  

Woodling says she agreed to teach hybrid to try and accommodate students who wanted to learn from home this semester.  

Other teachers have agreed to do the same.  

LRSD says at the elementary level, to accommodate the extra students, they will resize classes to move some teachers completely online or virtual students will just join in.  

“We will do some mini-lessons, we’ll do some recording lessons, we’ll have some platforms to log in to,” Woodling said.  

In the upper-grade levels, LRSD says they have teachers who have volunteered to give up their free periods to take on an extra class online.  

“We actually pay staff for that extra hour,” Poore said.  

LRSD says they have most of the upper-grade levels staffed to accommodate the extra online students. They are continuing to look to fill some elementary positions.  

So far the transition has been completely voluntary, but LRSD says if they can’t fill spots by Monday, it will do some movement of its own or go through a third party to hire additional teachers.  

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