BRADLEY — Bradley Elementary District 61 school principals touched upon issues of student engagement and behavior teachers are experiencing in their virtual classrooms during the school board meeting Thursday.
Bradley Central Principal Mark Kohl said he has witnessed some behavioral issues in Zoom class meetings, such as students misbehaving to show off for their classmates or sleeping during class.
In some instances, students have been kicked off Zoom calls for distracting behavior.
The school sent out a video reminding remote learners of expectations in the virtual classroom and has seen some improvement, he said.
However, some students still are not logging in to every class they are required to in the mornings. School staff have been calling and sending letters home to inform parents of attendance issues.
Kohl said some students are dishonest with their parents about how often they log in to class.
At least five or six parents called the school after receiving an attendance letter saying their children told them they were logging in every hour, when that was not the case.
Kohl said despite those issues, virtual learning has been successful overall. He hopes more students will be encouraged to switch from full time remote to in-person school in the second trimester, he added.
“Our teachers are teaching differently; technology-wise, they’ve really learned a lot, our staff has,” he said. “There’s still frustration with completion of work, but we have that in person too. It’s going to be challenging as we move forward with remote learning.”
Bradley West Principal Trisha Anderson said the school has not seen as many behavioral issues, but staff have been speaking with individual parents and students about lack of participation and engagement.
They also work with the I-KAN Regional Office of Education on attendance issues.
“I know that it has been challenging on some of the families. ... Some [students] are not as fortunate to have a mom or somebody sitting with them to help them [with school work],” Anderson said. “It has been very frustrating.”
Bradley East Principal Anna Kirchner said she has sat in on several Zoom class meetings with her teachers, and for the most part, they have been going well.
However, teachers also are having to troubleshoot issues with attendance and behavior in their virtual classrooms as they go along.
“I really am just amazed by remote teachers and what they are doing in the classroom with students,” she said. “I feel like they are going above and beyond. It’s constant problem solving and seeing what we can do better.”
School Board Vice President Phil Trudeau brought up a situation he heard about where a teacher was not letting students log in to the Zoom meeting if they were more than five minutes late because it disrupts the class.
“I get it, but on the flipside of the coin, if a kid showed up late for school, would we kick them out of the building or tell them they can’t go to class?” Trudeau said. “I don’t like the idea of a kid sitting on a screen for half an hour, maybe not knowing why they’re not allowed in.”
All three principals as well as Superintendent Scott Goselin confirmed there was no such policy in place for the district or at any individual school but said they would address the issue.
“It’s unfortunate things like that are happening,” Anderson said. “I agree; they shouldn’t not be allowed in. If they are showing up, that’s half the battle that we’re facing right now.”