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Elementary educators adapt to online teaching

There were some struggled on Monday as Minnesota began online learning, both technically and emotionally.

BURNSVILLE, Minn. — Across the state, online distance learning started Monday. 

And in Burnsville, today was a new beginning. Qorsho Hassan is a fifth grade teacher at Gideon Pond Elementary. She is learning together, now, means apart. 

"It is about unity and coming together and letting them know we are there for them," she said. "We might be struggling with this. I feel very much at loss not being in my classroom and with my students. "

She is not alone. The principal at the school, Chris Bellmont, said one question has weighed heavy on his heart: "As a leader, I am thinking how to facilitate relationships in this different way. That is weighing heavy on my mind and my heart.

 "We can talk about silver linings and we will learn about ourselves as educators but this is not ideal," he said. "This is not how schools work. This is not how grade schools work."

Monday morning, school districts across the state reported issues connecting because of high volume use.

But teachers in Burnsville say the connection they established long before COVID-19 will help carry them through. 

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"We were talking about the power of our industry and how we rely so much on relationships and human connections as the bedrock for everything we do," Bellmont said. "Our families are depending on us."

Hassan said because of those connections, students know they can reach out when in need.

"I had a child reach out to me who has overcome so much in her life. She said how worried she was about not finishing off her 5th grade year. She felt she had a strong start. She is upset she has to rethink what school looks like," Hassan said. "It is about being intentional with the relationships prior to this. I think something really incredible about pond is that we place relationships at the forefront of everything we do. And, I think because of that foundation it is a lot easier for us to connect with kids through distance learning and through online means." 

Meanwhile, Teachers like Hassan will provide new lessons and activities each week. But Lesson plans will not define her as a teacher. 

"I also feel a sense of hope because we all want the best for each other and we are gonna do what it takes," she said. "My priority is making sure my kids feel safe and don't feel too much anxiety going on and know that i am there for them and their families. I just keep thinking that we have kids that are relying on school for a lot of things more than just learning. That will help us move forward."

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