GREENSBORO, N.C. — It was the first day of school for Guilford County teachers on a non-traditional calendar.
It's a new start now that they'll teach online in what is bound to be a very different school year amid the coronavirus pandemic. The teachers are laying out their remote learning curriculum from the safety of their homes. They're preparing for non-traditional students to log on for classes starting Wednesday.
"For me, it's not so much about my background in my space but it's about the content that I'm delivering to my students," Andrea Green of Greensboro said.
Green teaches at the Middle College at UNCG. She is one of a number of teachers who logged on for personal development training on the first day back at work.
"I'm more so focused on my curriculum. So, I'm bringing in TikTok into my curriculum, bringing in Flip Grid, how to work with Zoom and Canvas, and making sure that the students have an authentic educational experience," Green said.
GCS teachers and students join 41 other North Carolina school districts to start the school year with remote learning. For the first 9 weeks of school, GCS students will learn remotely from the safety of their homes or a controlled environment where they're supervised by a caregiver.
"We don't want our students to be disengaged by staring at the computer screen. So, everyone is doing their best to be as creative and innovative as possible, to make sure that we're fostering authentic relationships with our students," she added.
"I do think it challenges them to read more and kind of research," band teacher, Justin Thomas said.
Thomas teaches on a traditional school calendar at Western Guilford Middle School.
He resumes work next Monday and has also made plans for when students log on for classes.
"Doing a lot of our team building activities and things that we can get done virtually because we can do those easily, as opposed to starting the year directly off with instruments. So there is a backup plan and we're just going to make it work the best way we know-how," said Thomas.
Aside from his immediate plans for his students, Thomas is thinking long term and hopes to prepare his students to eventually return to in-person learning.
"It'll come that time when we get to come back to the building and have that face-to-face interaction, but right now we just have to do it virtually because ultimately we want them to remain safe," he said.
Schools on a non-traditional calendar start August 5 with students picking up their laptops and other materials. All other GCS students including those enrolled in the district's two Virtual Academies start remote learning on August 17.
Registration for the Virtual Academies has been extended through September 15.