Dallas International School Students and Teachers Welcome Return to On-Campus Instruction Through Hybrid Learning Models
Forging into uncharted new territory, Dallas International School continues to offer a unique education while still placing the health and safety of its students, staff and faculty at the forefront of operations. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, DIS has adapted to updated educational standards to create dynamic new hybrid learning models to serve students while still adhering to local health and safety protocols. These new hybrid learning models have allowed students to begin the transition back to on-campus learning while staggering classes and providing alternating weeks of virtual learning and in-person instruction.
Nadège Dorbath, French math teacher at Dallas International School, welcomes the new hybrid learning models and is happy to be back on campus. Nadège has seamlessly adapted to the new class format and enjoys seeing students face-to-face after several months of virtual learning this past semester. "I am pleased to be in front of my students again, and have some sense of 'normalcy' after being away for so long. Even if groups are smaller now, there is in-person interaction taking place again. Meanwhile, for students who are remote, it's still possible for them to virtually attend class from the comfort of their home without the worries of missing out or falling behind," shares Nadège.
While the return has been going well for students and teachers, there have been challenges along the way. Appreciating the opportunity to see students again, although in staggered groups, Nadège feels that the division of the groups of students on-campus and attending class virtually has been a difficult concept to adjust to. "The division of students, between those in front of me and those who are remote, has posed some problems as we began hybrid learning. Before, we were all in class or all remote, so there was consistency with teaching methods. Now, there are times where I can see the students who are remote and students in class can see them through my screen projected on the board, but the remote students can't see those in class who are behind the unit in the center of the classroom. I feel that this causes the remote students to miss out on interactions occurring in class as I am instructing," explains Nadège.
Another concept Nadège has been working to adjust to in our hybrid learning models is the changing of teachers after each class as students remain in one room. To assure students remain safe, only teachers change between class periods while students remain with their cohorts in a single classroom for the entire day's activities. This concept was initially difficult to adapt to for Nadège, finding the changing of rooms after every class taxing. Nadège adds, "At first, the fact that we had to change rooms every hour was not the most pleasant thing, even if it's the safest solution to ensure social distancing for the students. I tend to carry a lot of class materials from one room to the next, so classroom setup, the time taken to sanitize the desk and computer in every room, and log into all the different websites or platforms needed to start my class would sometimes cut into lecture time. This concept is still a work in progress for me, but we are working on a more time efficient process to complete these matters more quickly."
With plans to maintain hybrid learning models until a full return to on-campus learning for all students has been deemed completely safe by local health and safety authorities, Nadège is content with teaching the smaller, staggered classes. "When a return to campus was announced, my main concern was the safety of students and staff. Once I returned and witnessed the measures that DIS was taking to ensure the health of the entire DIS community, my anxiety was erased and I was excited to see students finally return. Teachers arrived back on campus a week early and were trained on new methods of hybrid education. Being on campus before students, we were able to see firsthand the updated cleaning and sterilization methods being implemented, which put our minds at ease. There is no doubt in my mind that this will be a great academic year for students and DIS, and I am thrilled to be a part of it," exclaims Nadège.