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Aiken County schools to have early dismissal to train teachers for ‘dual modality’ learning

Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 6:16 PM EDT
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AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - Aiken County Schools are getting ready to take on a new way of learning and teaching. It’s called “Dual modality” and focuses on students who are at home in quarantine. The district now has less than a month to get all of its students, parents, and teachers ready for the change.

For those of us who aren’t teachers “Dual modality” means that teachers are teaching kids at home and in-person, at the exact same time, in the same session. But we wanted to find out what exactly this will look like and hear from teachers who have done it before.

“It is the most challenging thing I’ve done in my 17 years of instruction,” said Patrick Kelly.

Kelly is a teacher and a director with the Palmetto Teachers Association. His organization found last year nearly half of the teachers they surveyed had been teaching kids in class, and online at the same time.

“We also heard clearly from our members, that they felt in a dual-modality situation, the students that were at home were being disadvantaged compared to the students that were in person,” he said.

There are a couple of factors why this method can be harder for teachers, and for the kids learning at home.

“One teacher can only be stretched so many directions and just human nature is you’re more likely to direct your attention to the person that’s right in front of you, instead of the computer screen that’s beside of you,” said Kelly.

But there’s hope. Aiken County says they’re not expecting teachers to become master jugglers overnight.

“This is a starting point, this is not something like we’re expecting an end result in a few months. This is going to take some time to reach the level of proficiency that we’re going to look for later on,” said Mike Rosier, Aiken County Public Schools Director of Communications.

Some teachers may find themselves live streaming class very simply but will hopefully get better as time goes on interacting with both sides of the class.

“It will look different for folks in different classrooms depending on comfort level and capability,” he said.

So it’s going to take some learning for students, and for their teachers.

The director we spoke to with the teachers association tells us this method of teaching is a much better alternative than giving quarantined kids paper packets. But again, you absolutely can’t deny that it’s going to put some extra strain on our teachers.

But for the extra work teachers will be paid an additional $1,200 a semester. The plan is to train teachers, for the week of September 27 to October 1. The school will have early dismissal and will release students two hours earlier than the normal schedule.

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