West Tennessee teachers begin prep for virtual learning

MILAN, Tenn. — The start of school has been pushed back for many districts across West Tennessee, not just for safety, but to give teachers time to prepare for a new style of teaching: online.

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Thousands of families across West Tennessee are choosing to go to school online this year.

“It has taken everyone in the process to accomplish this, and it’s not one that can be taken overnight,” Emily Burleson, an instructional technology coach for Milan Special School District, said.

Milan Special School District has more than 500 students going to school virtually this year, about one-fifth of their student population.

Burleson says this is the future of teaching.

“This summer they’ve been in training, and they’ve been at home training, learning Google, learning Loom, learning FlipGrid,” she said.

Those may sound strange, but these are the tools your student may use instead of books and worksheets.

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“We’re learning to make manipulatives online, so the students can see it live. Then the students can move it on their own as well, and the teacher can see what they’re doing,” Burleson said.

One that’s quickly becoming a favorite: the Bitmoji classroom.

“When they click on certain items in their classroom, it takes them to resources that they need, or a syllabus, or will take them to extra activities they can do,” Burelson said.

They’re hoping the creativity and personal touches in these areas will help build a better connection.

“They’re learning about them, learning what their hobbies are, things they enjoy doing, and maybe a way they learn better,” Burleson said.

Burleson says because of the realness they’re bringing online, hopefully they won’t miss a beat when they come back into the classroom.

Milan Special School District already had Chromebooks for their high school students.

They’re distributing those among the virtual students, and if they don’t have WiFi, a hotspot is being provided.

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