Lansing teacher 'amazed' at how students rising to the challenge of online learning

Posted at 10:04 AM, Jan 20, 2021

LANSING, Mich. — Inside of a bungalow on Lansing’s north side, you can find class in session.

But, isn't your typical classroom, it’s virtual, and it's being led by Kristan Small, who teaches social studies to sixth, seventh and eighth graders at Woodcreek Montessori.”

Small is one of more than 1,000 teachers with the Lansing School District who have set up classrooms at home, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The change came in March.

“My last day with kids, this kind of makes me tear up, was Friday the 13th of last year,” Small said.

While grading papers for more than 100 students, Small has been able to make online learning fun by incorporating activities like cooking, games and even open discussions about real life current events.

“Asking them tough questions and really listening to what they come up with, it’s inspiring.” Small said. “It’s hopeful.”

Small's classes include at-risk students who may not have resources available to them at home. She and her colleagues have taken extra steps to reach them.

“Going out to their homes and sending out mailings and seeing what comes back,” Small said.

Lansing School Board President Gabrielle Lawrence said she's “amazed by the steps that our teachers make to try and reach out to those students who struggle."

While teachers like Small have made online learning work, Lawrence hopes in-person learning can resume soon.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has urged schools to offer at least some in person classes by March 1, but Lawrence said there are some things that need to be in place first, like a vaccination for teachers and a detailed sanitation plan.

Until then Lawrence is remaining optimistic.

“This pandemic is going to end soon, and we will be back in class soon,” she said.

And as for Small, she has one message for her students.

“I am so amazed how they rise to the challenge,: Small said.