‘They were anxious to get started’: Spokane Public School students begin first day of school at home

SPOKANE, Wash. — More than 30,000 Spokane Public School students started the first day of school on Monday. It was full of nerves and excitement for some kids.

Corina Fletcher, a sixth grade teacher at Woodridge Elementary, started her day bright and early.

“Usually on the first day of school I can’t ever sleep because I’m just so excited for school to start,” Fletcher said. “This year has come with more apprehension than normal years because we feel like we’re brand new teachers all over again.”

Fast forward to 8:30 a.m., students were waiting for her in the Microsoft Teams lobby.

“I wish they were in person,” Fletcher said. “I wish that we were all sitting in front of each other, but this is the next best thing.”

On Monday, her classroom was empty. Desks with no students and no backpacks on the ground. Instead, Fletcher saw her students through a computer screen.

“They were excited to get started, maybe a little nervous,” she explained. “There were a few that were a little apprehensive as to how all this was going to go.”

The day started with a few technical hiccups.

“We had some kids stuck in the lobbies or their video wasn’t working or their sound wasn’t working,” Fletcher said.

She even had to get out of the virtual classroom because of technical issues.

Another issue Fletcher noticed was listening to what student was talking. It’s one thing being able to see them in person and look up. With more than 15 students in a virtual class, trying to figure out who is talking was a challenge.

“Hopefully they’re learning to say their name if I don’t respond right away,” Fletcher said.

Fletcher’s student-teacher came up with a solution so everyone doesn’t talk at once.

“So if the kids are needing to mute themselves, I can hold this up [a mute sign] and that way they’re ready to mute,” Fletcher explained, “and if they’re ready to talk, then we can go like this [hold up unmute sign].”

Fletcher is also having to adjust where she is teaching. SPS teachers aren’t required to teach at school. However, Fletcher wanted to.

“It’s weird for me to stay in one place as I’m teaching because normally I’m dancing around this classroom.” she said.

Through the challenges, Fletcher said it’s about figuring it out together.

“If COVID has taught us one thing, it’s to be flexible,” she explained. “And expect the unexpected and we’ll roll with it. I feel like if we can do this, we can do anything.”

Though she is excited to hopefully see her students physically when the time comes.

“When we come back in person, it’s going to be even better,” Fletcher said. “But until then we got it. We got this.”

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