Virtual Learning in FISD Builds Relationships, Even Through a Screen

Every morning, students wake up and go to school. For some, that means walking outside, getting on a bus, and entering a classroom. For others, it means opening a computer. In Friendswood ISD, 26 percent of students are attending school virtually this nine-weeks, though that number will decrease to 13 percent for the second nine-weeks.

Virtual learning in FISD is a learning option for students who may be unable to come to school as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the virtual learning environment, students have opportunities to connect through following along in real-time and also working at their own pace.

“Students are following a similar scope and sequence to students learning in-person,” Lauren Ambeau, assistant superintendent of teaching and learning, said. “It’s truly amazing to see how teachers have relentlessly re-imagined teaching to reach their kids on screen.”

Ambeau said she is proud of how education has been revolutionized in the wake of change.

“Virtual teachers had no handbook. They have literally invented every instructional move they have made,” she said. “They are innovators and visionaries who are changing the face of public education in FISD.”

Though there have been challenges such as learning to maximize instructional time with students while on the screen, redesigning lessons to make them digitally engaging, and gathering feedback from students in a new way, Ambeau said the teachers and students have met each obstacle head-on.

“Teaching virtually has required us as educators to truly analyze how we approach lesson design,” Ambeau stated. “When you have limited time with students on the screen, you are really forced to analyze, ‘At the end of this lesson, what am I wanting students to be more proficient in?’”

She continued.

“We have also had to find creative ways to socially and emotionally connect with students through the screen,” Ambeau said. “Teachers have discovered incredible ways to foster a sense of connection through the use of virtual class meetings, small group and individual conferences through breakout rooms, students sharing stories and lesson responses through other tech platforms.”

The connections being formed are visible to anyone watching, according to Ambeau.

“Walking behind a virtual teacher while they have 22 students’ smiles on the screen in front of them and to feel the connections they have been able to build in a short amount of time never having met these students is incredible,” she stated.

Regardless of if students are learning virtually or in-person, Ambeau emphasized that FISD is committed to teaching all students and living out the District’s goals and beliefs.