MASSENA — Remote learning has brought another new aspect to the education world — an online “homework hotline” for Massena Central School students.
The hotline is staffed by college students at SUNY Potsdam and St. Lawrence University who are heading toward careers in education. It’s available to students from 4 to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 1 to 8 p.m. Sunday.
“This was a collaboration between our Director of Curriculum Stephanie Allen and the Teacher Education Programs at SUNY Potsdam and St. Lawrence,” Superintendent Patrick Brady said.
He said the district receives college students every year who need pre-service hours if they’re heading toward careers in education. Seventy-two college students at St. Lawrence University and SUNY Potsdam are involved in the program.
“They come into the classroom and they observe and provide some support for our teachers,” he said.
COVID-19 brought those classroom visits to a halt, but Mr. Brady said some teachers continue to work with the college students remotely.
“They’re still sponsoring them by allowing them to have access into their Google Classrooms, which is where they are educating students. The pre-service students can observe the teachers teaching, get access to resources and have models that they can use as they are preparing to become educators themselves,” he said.
That led to the formation of the homework hotline. Mr. Brady said they were discussing how they could continue the pre-service program during the pandemic, and the homework hotline was born.
“College students could provide homework help to take some of the pressure off our teaching staff,” he said.
The homework hotline started on Oct. 20 and runs through the first semester, finishing on Dec. 11. It picks up again during the second semester, on Feb. 4, and runs through April 30.
To access the assistance, students go to the district’s website at https://www.mcs.k12.ny.us/. The link is available under the “Parents” tab. They click on their grade level — from kindergarten to grade two, grades three through six, and grades seven through 12 — and join Google Meet.
“It connects them with one of these tutors,” Mr. Brady said.
Because of the large number of Massena students, there may be a few times and days that have limited coverage, but he said that for the most part they’ve tried to provide free tutoring and assistance to the students and their families. If the college student is unsure about something, they reach out to their sponsor teacher or classroom teacher to let them know the concern and needs of the student.
“This is another way of adapting to the new type of instruction and reality that we’re dealing with during the pandemic. I think it’s really extraordinary that we have this partnership and are continuing to make it work. This is a creative initiative and I appreciate the partnership with SUNY Potsdam and St. Lawrence. I appreciate the support of our staff to make this happen. We’re trying to grow it as best we can,” Mr. Brady said.