Starting My Teaching Day at 3:30 PM and Sharing Friday Movie Nights With My Students: Bringing Joy To Remote Learning in Rural North Carolina

ByAmber Rawlings
North Carolina teacher Amber Rawlins keeps things lively while making every moment of remote teaching count with her third-grade students.

There is no way around it. This year has been difficult to adjust to, but we are making the best of what is happening. I am so used to being hands-on with my students and families in this part of rural North Carolina that not being able to have in-person contact with them throughout remote learning has been challenging.

But my colleagues and I try every day to make every lesson as joyful as we can. We sent students letters, made signs for their yards saying “We miss you” — whatever it takes to let them know that we are still here, that we are still working together. The classroom environment might have changed, but the expectation to learn in my third-grade class, and the love I feel for my students, has not.

As much as I would love to transition back to in-person learning, that doesn’t look likely any time soon. Halifax and Northampton counties are both considered to be extremely high risk for COVID-19, based on cases per capita and test positivity, which, as of Feb. 15, was at 14 percent for Halifax County and 9 percent for Northampton. So we’ve been focusing on making remote learning as sustainable as possible.

We went from distributing instructional packets in a 93-mile bus route throughout the spring and summer to fully remote learning by prioritizing funding to ensure that all students had access to a tech device (tablets for K-2 and Chromebooks for 3-12), as well as distributing hot spots for students in the deepest rural areas. If it’s windy or there is a storm, the Wi-Fi freezes up, but I am comforted by the fact that most of the time my students can log on, access their work, and see their classmates virtually. Teachers who have confronted connectivity issues of their own are able to come to the school building to access the internet and our administration gifted us with an extra screen to help us see our students on Zoom and utilize other platforms we use during our teaching time.

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