Bay Area teachers discuss learning loss with distance learning amid pandemic

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Distance learning was daunting in the beginning. Now, about a year later, it's clear there has been some learning loss.

Annemarie Guido teaches second grade at Lietz Elementary School. Jeffrey Spafford is an eighth grade core teacher at Moreland Middle School. Like all teachers, they've had to adapt to distance learning to make sure their students don't fall behind.

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ABC7 News Anchor Ama Daetz asked the two several questions:

Is it obvious when a child is falling behind?

Guido: "Yes. Not only in person, but also online. What's been so wonderful about this year is we have had this way of assessing students online that has made it easy for us to see where they're at with their reading levels. And we're able to see where are they at and compare that to where they should be at. So I'm definitely able to see who's behind and who needs a little bit of help."

Spafford: "It's not that easy because all these other factors that we are no longer in control of or we are not seeing right in front of our face. It's everything that's on the other side of the screen, with their cameras off. We usually see the signs. They're struggling. They might be frustrated. They might be disengaged and not present and all those other ways that we could quickly fix."

How difficult is it to get a child caught up?

Guido: "It has its challenges, but luckily at Lietz and throughout the district, we have so many amazing resources to help with reading intervention."

Spafford: "Sometimes it's just spending a little extra time. We offer distance learning support, like office hours so to speak, and having kids attend those."

Is there concern that when all these kids are back in class, it could be challenging to teach a group of kids at different levels?

Spafford: "The socialization factor is important. Being able to learn from one another, I actually think would really help."

Guido isn't concerned.

Guido: "Because we'll be all in person together, it will be really wonderful to get to see them just read before my eyes and I can see where their fingers and tracking."

Plus, Guido says parents have been really involved, which is incredibly helpful for both in-person and distance learning.

In that respect, both Guido and Spafford say things are not all bad.

Spafford says, "You just gotta roll with it, Ama. You gotta have some fun with it. We play music, we ask questions, games... We try to get them to interact as much as possible, even if they don't want to un-mute. We celebrate the little things. When they show up on their screen one day with their hair done, we just cheer them on."

Guido adds, "All of these kids are just happy to be with me and be with their peers, regardless of the environment. I've been able to make so many amazing connections with these kids, even online.

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