Darlington School: An Inside Look at Distance Learning 
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An Inside Look at Distance Learning

Jennifer Collins | April 9, 2020 | 473 views

Distance learning has forced a major shift in education across the globe. Agile teachers are using any and all of the tools in their toolbox and partnering with parents and caregivers in a way that has never happened before. 

When Darlington teachers and students transitioned into the distance learning model, a model that is still evolving and adapting, I began receiving pictures and messages from my colleagues at Darlington of remote classes in action. It is truly amazing how the personalities of our teachers, coupled with strong relationships with parents and students, has translated into a positive and enriching experience overall. Our community has embraced Google Classroom, meeting virtually via Google Meet, and are leaning even harder on the teacher, student, and parent portals inside the Darlington website. 

Everyone has been doing the best they can with the tools available and teachers are doing the best they can to not lose the momentum they had in the classroom… and they are doing a wonderful job! But how does this look for students receiving individualized instruction through Darlington’s Teaching and Learning Center? Well, I’m here to report that they are in VERY good hands. 

Early into our distance learning experience I started receiving emails and text messages about how amazing it was to watch Tonya Green teach the students in Darlington’s Accelerated Learning Program for Dyslexia. I heard about how much energy she had and was encouraged to come see for myself, and so I did. 

Tonya is a learning specialist for our lower and middle grades and is the lead Orton Gillingham teacher for Darlington’s Accelerated Learning Program for Dyslexia. On a normal day, you’ll find Tonya working with students individually or in small groups. Focusing on grades 2-5, the ALP provides necessary remediation with learning specialists, while allowing students enrolled in the program to have a traditional school experience. 

But how does this look in our new normal of distant learning? When I walked into the pre-K to 2 cottages one morning, it was way too quiet. The little stools normally filled with wiggly children were up on the tables and it was entirely too dark and quiet in the building. Tonya arrived, coffee in hand. Large coffee in hand. She was prepared for a busy morning of one-on-one video meetings with her students. She wasted no time and hopped right into her first lesson. The sleepy voice on the other end of her computer didn’t miss a beat and they breezed through their lesson with ease. This happened over and over with each new call. Tonya, perhaps fueled by caffeine (?) and adrenaline, never lost her energy for each new student. 

Tonya admitted she was very concerned at first with how to keep her ALP students engaged and maintain their normal classroom pace, but has been amazed and very impressed with their progress. Each day she meets face-to-face with students and reviews, practices, and introduces new skills very much like she would if they could meet in person. Well, maybe with the addition of pets and siblings and the occasional snack break mid lesson. Even with these environmental distractions, she’s been able to push even further with her students and keep them on track. 

The partnership between Tonya and all of Darlington’s learning specialists with students and their parents is thriving in this new learning experience. It began on campus with intentional face-to-face connections when we were all learning and teaching in person and has perhaps even deepened through this new normal. 

Watch this quick video to catch a glimpse at how Tonya leads her students. Then imagine maintaining that level of excitement and engagement for a few hours. It really is amazing to see from both Tonya and her students. 


Additional Resources

Click here to watch a video about Darlington’s approach to multisensory learning.  
Click here to learn more about the Teaching and Learning Center.   
Click here to learn more about Darlington’s Accelerated Learning Program for Dyslexia.