Strong Relationships Made the Transition to Remote Learning Easier than Expected

As COVID-19 spread in March, Colorado educators recognized that their schools would have to close, potentially for the rest of the academic year. Many schools in Colorado, and across the nation, had to scramble and find alternative strategies to teach students while balancing how they could support students socially and emotionally. However, at Woodland Park Middle School, teachers found themselves better positioned to tackle the transition from the classroom to remote learning because they had spent years fostering strong relationships with their students through regularly scheduled mentoring sessions.

Woodland Park was already set up for success because the educators had spent three years focusing on student engagement through mentoring. They’ve also noticed that the emphasis they had placed on social-emotional learning prior to the closure made the change more manageable. “The transition to remote learning has been much easier for our students and teachers because we have been using Summit Learning’s mentoring approach to foster strong relationships and personal connections,” said Erin Street, Assistant Principal at Woodland Park Middle School. 

As they designed a remote learning plan, the instructional team prioritized fostering the relationships teachers had made with their students and community throughout the year. They put together a schedule that incorporates mentoring time as well as live instruction so students can continue to have authentic connections with their friends and teachers, even though they are now learning from their homes.

A 7th grade Woodland Park Middle School student finishes a science project from home.

“Over the past few years, our teachers really focused on creating deep relationships with our students through one-on-one mentoring sessions. Our students use this time to set personal goals and build up life skills like self direction and time management. We’re seeing this hard work pay off now,” said Principal Street. “Our students are active agents in their education and are continuing to set their own goals and advancing their learning remotely. Students know that they can reach out to us for support at any time and because of Summit Learning we have the tools to ensure that we’re meeting with all of our students and monitoring their progress from afar.”

Mrs. Street is supporting her students remotely with the help of her four-legged friend.

Focusing on communicating with the Woodland Park community has also provided a sense of normalcy for their students and families. From newsletters to social media posts showing off educator’s four-legged teaching assistants, Woodland Park is finding every opportunity to provide positive stories from the virtual classroom. “We are very proud of the support and positive response we have had from students, staff, and families!” said Street.

About the author

Summit Learning
Summit Learning is a research–based approach to education designed to drive student engagement, meaningful learning, and strong student–teacher relationships that prepare students for life after graduation. Created by teachers with experience in diverse classrooms, Summit Learning is grounded in decades of research about how children learn. With Summit Learning, students gain mastery of core subjects like math, history, English, and science, while also carefully developing the skills and habits of lifelong learners. Summit Learning is independently led and operated by the nonprofit, Gradient Learning.