'All in this together': Class at Spring Valley High shows distance learning working for some

Posted Wednesday, 25 March 2020 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

It was a simple, yet powerful message from a high school student-athlete: “You can’t win a game by yourself,” the Spring Valley High flag football player said. One by one, students in Billy Hemberger’s sports leadership course at Spring Valley took turns contributing to a conversation during Tuesday’s class about the mental aspects of sports, such as the importance of being a good teammate. This day of learning resembled many others for the group of 29 students — plenty of deep thinking, well thought-out answers, personal examples and laughs. But this session had a massively different look and feel. Class was held via video conferencing app Google Meet, a new world for students across the Clark County School District as learning shifts online out of concerns for the spreading coronavirus. It was the first online meeting for the class. “From a teaching perspective, the face-to-face conversation makes you feel more connected,” Hemberger said. “It’s why you get into teaching, right?" Hemberger gave the students videos and literature to consume from Brett Ledbetter’s “What Drives Winning” before the online meetup, including examples on why the Oregon women’s basketball team is successful. Students submitted questions for discussion after watching the video, a process Hemberger said took a few hours. The class is composed of the school’s athletes, all of whom used their experiences competing for the Grizzlies to further the group discussion. They are mostly upperclassmen and some team captains, bringing a certain maturity to the conversation and showing that the audible to traditional learning can be beneficial. “It’s important that kids don’t fall into that bubble of feeling isolated (at home),” Hemberger said. One athlete spoke about hurting her knee during a state playoff game and having to rely on teammates to finish the game. Another spoke about how being a role player brought value to the team. “If you do the little things, you open up someone else for opportunity,” that student said. Students weren’t required to participate in the distance-learning experience. CCSD officials have determined they can’t penalize students who aren’t learning online because not all families have the technology — a computer or tablet, and reliable internet — to participate. One student couldn’t attend because of technology difficulties; about 10 were complete no-shows, Hemberger said. Many of the students were scheduled to participate in a spring sport for Spring Valley, but that season was shelved out of concerns for the spreading virus. That, understandably, is still tough for the students to comprehend. That made Tuesday’s class therapeutic for several reasons. Playing a sport is more than winning and losing; it's also about the camaraderie of competing, a few of the students reasoned. The same is true with attending school — the social development is equally important as what’s learned. “We are all in this together,” one student said. “We are doing our best.” The class will meet once a week virtually in Google Meet until its scheduled return to campus next month. Ray Brewer can be reached at 702-990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21

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