Since the COVID-19 pandemic forced all K-12 schools to switch from the traditional face-face learning to online classrooms with very little preparation time, many of the online learning experiences our students faced were intermittent, frustrating, sub-standard, and lonely. Our four week summer program model, "Gateway English Learners Online Academy" focused on fostering a sense of community among our participants, acknowledging student anxiety, and providing additional emotional support through enrichment activities, meetings with an art therapist, and a social worker. Our students felt like they are part of a learning community, not just a kid in front of a computer screen. Remote learning doesn't mean students learn in isolation, or feel secluded or lonely. Online students can and should feel like they are members of productive and supportive educational communities.
Vimeo Interview, "Voices in Urban Education 41: Interview with author Barbara Roberts Hodgson. Case study in eric.ed.gov about Gateway Summer Program VUE article, "Meeting the Needs f Refugee and Immigrant Students in a Culturally Responsive Way".
Paula Whalen is an experienced ESL teacher, and recently completed a Master's thesis about the inequities between rural and urban students vis-a-vis device allocation and WiFi availability. Paula has hosted many community outreach programs for English Learner families in Lowell, Massachusetts, and has strong school-home communication experiences.