Coronavirus: How Vermont teacher, coach adapt to remote learning

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Chemistry teacher Stephen Rizner is trying to find the right formula for remote instruction.

Since schools have closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the South Burlington High School teacher has found creative ways to engage students with material intended for in-person, hands-on learning. 

“Maybe the most important thing students do in my class is gain laboratory experience; using different tools & reagents, learning various techniques, understanding when to use one piece of equipment over another,” Rizner wrote in an email. He and a coworker have created videos of experiments, but “there is no substitute for students measuring things on their own and using those data to develop conclusions,” he said.

As a track & field coach, he has had to “completely rethink how we go about it.” He is supporting athletes through online team workouts, individualized training plans and virtual competitions.

Having created digital content for the current remote learning format, he now has lessons that could vary future instruction. 

But it takes more personal time. Content creation and communication with students and families has resulted in challenges with work-life balance.

“We know it’s not perfect, but we’re just all trying to do the best we can with what we have,” Rizner said. He understands students and families are in stressful situations, and some more than others.

“Flexibility and understanding have been my guiding principles through all of this,” he said.

More: Personal pandemic: Short stories of Vermonters facing life in the coronavirus era

Contact April Barton at abarton@freepressmedia.com or 802-660-1854. Follow her on Twitter @aprildbarton.

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