I often try to highlight something of interest that touches you instead of always focusing on accomplishments in the Eaton Rapids Public Schools (ERPS) community. This column does a little bit of both.
As I recently prepared to run or host my first virtual meeting, I was a tad paranoid. I had my administrative assistant, Cindy Smith, practice with me twice. Following my practice rounds, I dutifully set up my meeting ahead of time and sent a link out to 15 participants for an early morning meeting.
Typically, we meet at 7 a.m., and I had pushed this back to 8 a.m. since no one was commuting. I got out there 30 minutes early to organize my material and went “into” the meeting as host and got lost. I was so lost that, by 8:05 a.m., I had our communications director, Melisa Chick, set up another meeting, notify the participants and basically start over. We were only 15 minutes late, but I had no clue how many participants had given up because of my ineptitude.
I was reminded of one of Thomas Edison’s great quotes: “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” My getting lost in a virtual meeting will happen in different ways to students, parents and teachers in this new world.
Last week, we sent out our “learning continuity plans” for each of our school buildings so parents, students and teachers would know the new school rules. We outlined what we were doing for all of the following: food distribution, emotional and mental health support, access to electronic/ computer devices, communication, instruction, program delivery, workload expectations, testing and assessment, technology help, grading and students with special needs.
We did plans for six buildings. These plans impact staff, parents and students at different levels, as all of us have different academic and technological expertise. Some, no doubt, will soar, and some will get lost.
I send daily notes to a dozen or so teachers about how they are coping and managing to create a vibrant virtual world for their students. All have this sense of resiliency that Thomas Edison had. I was also reminded of another Thomas Edison quote where he said that our “greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try once more.”
I plan to share our virtual learning success stories during our last six weeks. Being realistic, I believe there is a high probability we will return to some of this remote environment in the fall. So, I hope we have some exciting trials and errors this spring.
Did I mention I made an appointment with Cindy to learn how to host a virtual meeting?”
Bill DeFrance is ERPS superintendent.