The Texas Education Agency is promoting four models to help districts manage remote and in-person learning.

It comes partly in response to concerns about the heavy workload concurrent teaching puts on teachers. TEA released webinars on each teaching method, and TCTA reviewed the materials and put together this summary of the pros and cons, along with examples of each method. (Click here for more information on TEA's website about these methods.)

METHOD 1: CONCURRENT TEACHING

Pros: Allows students to stay with same teacher, easily accommodates students moving in and out of in-person/virtual learning.

Cons: Heavy lift for teachers; teachers have to specialize in two instructional modalities and perform them simultaneously.

Examples: Many districts used this model in the fall semester.

METHOD 2: SPLIT SCHEDULING

Pros: Allows students to stay with same teacher; accommodates students moving in/out of in-person/virtual learning. Although teachers have to specialize in two instructional modalities, they don’t have to do it at the same time.

Cons: Teachers must specialize in two modalities. Heavily dependent on whether numbers work out regarding the number of students choosing in-person or virtual learning.   

Example: Crowley ISD looks at the number of on-campus students vs. remote learners for a grading period to set the maximum student-teacher ratio for on-campus and virtual learning. Then it determines the number of on-campus periods required and the number of periods available for remote teaching. Students are assigned to teachers based on the ratios, and class schedules are arranged so students keep their teacher or team of teachers even if they switch between remote and in-person learning. Teachers focus on in-person students one class period, then remote learners in another.

METHOD 3: SPLIT STAFFING

Pros: Allows teachers to specialize in one modality.

Cons: Students may not stay with same teacher and schedules may change if students switch modalities. (A way to ease that is to have common curriculum and scope/sequence and teacher teams, which is why this model may only work at the elementary level.) It also requires complex master scheduling.

Examples: Forney ISD’s virtual teachers only teach remotely, but they do so from campus so they can assist with student arrivals, dismissals, lunch duty — a way to manage social distancing effectively across remote/on-campus teachers. In Victoria and Hawkins ISD, some elementary campuses use this method.

METHOD 4: VIRTUAL ACADEMY

Pros: Useful when campuses vary widely on the percentage of remote students and teacher capacity to deliver remote learning effectively. In that case, it may be best to pool virtual students and teachers across the district via the virtual academy.

Cons: Requires significant communication with families that if a student changes modality, he/she is likely to see a teacher/schedule change (one way to ease this is common scope/sequence, common teacher collaboration time).

Example: Lubbock ISD has its own virtual academy principal. Substitutes have been trained to teach virtually. Also, if teachers are quarantined and feeling OK while isolated at home, substitutes monitor in-person students while the teacher does lessons virtually from home. Lubbock ISD has 84 virtual teachers for elementary. These teachers are solely virtual, and their online classes have 25-35 students, to allow social distancing for on-campus learners. In middle and high school, some faculty teaches concurrently, some students use the self-paced Edgenuity program for learning, and some teachers have designated virtual periods and in-person classes.