SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — As schools around the San Francisco Bay Area remain closed during the COVID-19 outbreak, teachers are tasked with shifting their classrooms to “distance learning” platforms.
An English Language Arts teacher and curriculum designer who realized early-on that teachers were going to need a lot of help was Caitlin Mitchell.
“As soon as things started to change and schools started to close, I noticed a lot of teachers in our community who, all-of-a-sudden, were thrown into this new online learning environment. So I thought it myself, ‘What can I do?,'” Mitchell said.
Mitchell, the co-creator of EB Academics, sent an email to the 20,000 teachers who subscribe to her newsletter. She asked about what teachers were struggling with the most, and what they felt like they needed, to continue to connect with their students.
She said, “The overwhelming majority of responses that we got back were focused on, ‘I don’t know how to do anything online. I don’t know how to host conferences with my students, or grade papers, or assign homework. How do you take what you would normally do in the classroom … how do you move that into the online space, what does that even look like?'”
Mitchell quickly put together free online tutorials showing teachers that making the shift to distance learning was do-able. She focused on the basics, and encouraged educators to stay positive in challenging times.
One teacher in Sonoma County, Cathy Wedell, said Mitchell’s tutorials and ideas were a “life raft.” She nominated Mitchell to be a KRON4 Hero.
“(Mitchell) has been an inspiration to many Bay Area teachers. Teachers like me who are struggling to now make the shift from the classroom to online are being supported by Caitlin’s warm and upbeat approach,” Wedell wrote to KRON4.
Mitchell said her biggest goal is to help teachers not feel so overwhelmed. They don’t have to throw away and re-write all of their lesson plans just because schools are closed, she said.
“Our lives are very different at home than they were three weeks ago,” she said. “You don’t need to completely change everything that you have already been planning on doing. Let’s take your original plan, let’s adapt a little tiny bit, and make them useful in the classroom online,” Mitchell said.