Technology Academy: Johnson City teachers say annual training has prepared them for switch to remote learning

Keeping Schools Safe

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – The school year is quickly approaching and for most districts, it’s going to look a lot different. On Tuesday, Johnson City Schools announced that they will not be welcoming students back on campus the first few weeks of the school year.

Instead, the first three weeks of the 2020-2021 school year will be completely remote. While remote learning isn’t considered ideal for most teachers, those who work for Johnson City schools say they’re prepared. The announcement on Tuesday came shortly after a ‘Technology Academy’ was held district-wide on 11 Johnson City School campuses.

This day-long seminar has been held annually for the past five years with the goal of integrating more technology and online programs into the classroom.

Teachers at Town Acres Elementary, one of the locations hosting the seminar, said this ‘Technology Academy’ has given them the edge during this pandemic. “It’s kind of grown into something that’s like well, thank goodness we have this because now we’re more prepared for something that no one foresaw happening,” said Yolanda Miller, a kindergarten teacher at Town Acres.

Miller said the course has always been helpful in past years, but now it’s being considered a blessing. She said everyone wants to be back with their students but they understand that’s difficult right now.

On top of school looking different this year, this seminar was also changed because of the pandemic. Rather than being hosted at Science Hill with over 300 teachers in attendance, it was split up and held on 11 different campuses with teachers divided up even further into separate classrooms, socially distanced, and wearing masks during presentations.

Another change was adding zoom and pre-recorded presentations which is proving beneficial to teachers who were in attendance.

“In some ways, it’s great because these sessions are going to be recorded and you don’t have just today to see it live, so you can go back and watch something that maybe you wouldn’t have gotten to see before,” said Karen Bunch, a third-grade teacher at Towne Acres.

Regardless of what the year brings, Yolanda Miller said they feel prepared because of this training and the already existing technology being used in their schools. “Everybody is getting out of their comfort zone. Everybody I think by the end of today, will have a way to start the year, whether it’s in person or not, that can transition fluidly between the two,” said Miller.

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