SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Students of the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System (SCCPSS) are separated from teachers due to the coronavirus and school closings. But many students can now see their favorite teachers on TV.
This week, SCCPSS announced that in cooperation with Comcast, it has established its own public access channel, 195.
“The idea for us is to provide content 24/7, ” says Dr. Garrett Brundage, who is the chief of Educational Services at SCCPSS.
Teachers are currently taping lessons to provide that content which Brundage says will be rotated (in the TV business we call that a rerun) on a regular basis so students who missed something the first time can see the lesson and their teacher over again.
“This gives students that extra information or that extra tutorial service when they’re having some difficulty understanding a concept,” said Brundage. “We’ll have elementary, middle and high school lessons and it will be on-demand as well.”
The school system is posting viewer guides online here as they become available.
News 3 met fifth grade Hodge Elementary teacher Lashunda Jackson after she taped a session on the “Roaring 20s” for her Social Studies class. She’s hoping her students will become engaged this way but also says she wants them to know how much she misses seeing them in person.
“This isn’t the same thing as that hug or that fist bump or hearing ‘Good Morning Miss Jackson’ so this separation is hard,” Jackson told us.
She says she meets with many of her students several times a week in “virtual class sessions” but thinks the TV lesson will provide students with additional ways to learn at this critical time.
Dr. Brundage agrees: “There are things that we realize that students need and we want to make sure that they have access not necessarily to a live person but to someone who can explain it to them rather than them getting it through a packet.”
He also indicated that teachers are learning something as well in terms of the televised lessons.
“You know, getting in front of the camera and doing it in front of the camera is a little bit different than having an audience of students so to speak,” he said. “So the teacher has to anticipate some of the questions that the students may have or some of the difficult concepts to grasp and they have to think through that process in front of camera.”
Jackson says her first televised lesson was a bit nerve-racking but she is doing it for her students and to learn additional ways to reach out to them. In her 1920s lesson she included a poem from the renowned poet Langston Hughes:
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?
Or does it explode?
Jackson seems to have picked that poem for a number of reasons.
“It’s one of my favorites because to me you know we can kind of apply it to this day and this situation in our lives where a dream is being deferred by all this,” she said. “But my goal is that my students will follow their dreams despite all that is happening and I want them to know that whatever their dream is, I want to help get them there and to motivate them.”
“We’re all feeling the frustration and anger and you can be filled with emotions but in the end I believe that we’re all going to come out a little bit better if we just hold on,” said Jackson.
Brundage acknowledges that distant learning still may have a way to go in terms of education systems developing best practices but says while these are trying times that educators are still striving to serve children.
“We are trying to work through this as much as possible and still keep our kids engaged and keep our teachers engaged with the kids and still provide a quality education even though we’re not in the same room,” he said.