The Friday before Spring Break is typically a time when students and faculty are looking forward to a well-deserved week off. There are plans to be made: what activities to do with that week off, packing for trips, looking forward to sleeping in.
Instead of any of those, however, on March 13, the faculty and administration at Incarnate Word Academy sat in our Conference Center, learning about technology. Because of the coronavirus pandemic and recommendations from both the City of Houston and Harris County to limit gatherings of more than 10 people, IWA made the decision that the school would segue to remote learning beginning Monday, March 23.
"While these are very uncertain times, one thing that remains constant is our commitment to education," said Sister Lauren Beck, C.V.I., president of Incarnate Word Academy. "We are so fortunate to have a team of talented, dedicated faculty who are embracing the technology available to us to continue conducting classes with our students."
Using tech formats such as Google Classroom and MyHomework, two systems already familiar to IWA students, and adding in platforms like Zoom, Face Time and Flip Grid, teachers are formatting their classes in what should be a seamless transition from in person to online. Over the break, several teachers, including Mrs. Rachael Valka, one of IWA's theology teachers, recorded videos for their students to let them know what to expect.
In addition, the school sent out a detailed summary of what students and families could expect this week as the transition to online launched.
"The good thing in all of this is that technology is such a part of our lives that our students and faculty are already familiar with using it," said Eric Kerr-Heraly, an IWA English teacher and the school's educational technologist, who's led faculty through training on multiple platforms. "Our faculty have looked to put a personal stamp on their lessons and have been great at finding the best ways to make these platforms work for them."