Long Distance Learning_Jaime Rufo

A closer look at distance learning: Jaime Rufo, Astronomy

Port Chester Middle School astronomy teacher Jaime Rufo and her students usually have their eyes fixed on the night sky. With distance learning in place, they are now focused on more earthly matters.

Since the start of distance learning in the district, Ms. Rufo has been creating videos she shares with her students twice a week. Some include her talking to them and others are astronomy related interactive videos. Typically, as the video plays, it will pause and ask a question, students then submit their answers as they watch.

In addition, she is working to not overwhelm her students and their families. She knows some students will finish their assignments within minutes, but she anticipates that they should take 20 to 30 minutes to complete.

One curriculum video she shared ran about five minutes and covered the topic of constellations.

“Students are checking in and completing their work on their own time,” she said, adding she has seen assignments come in via email around midnight or later.

Ms. Rufo said she is concerned about her student’s emotional well-being during this unusual time.

“I have been trying to focus on the emotional health of my students just as much as I focus on curriculum,” she said.

In one such video, Ms. Rufo said she wanted to make sure her students were staying positive. She filmed herself talking and offered suggestions such maintaining a schedule including getting up at the same time, showering, eating breakfast and writing down a to-do list for the day. She also included two short videos, one that helped explain what social distancing was and why it is important and another on how germs are spread.

She also noted how she can panic when hearing the news about everything that is happening. One of the things she does is to meditate, a technique she suggests her students try as well, something they can do using the Calm app.

“It calms your mind,” Ms. Rufo said. “It keeps me busy and helps make me happy,” Ms. Rufo told students.

“I’ve been very proud of my students and what they are accomplishing,” Ms. Rufo continued. “While I have progressed in discussion of vocabulary and astronomical topics, I have been focusing on their emotional health as well during this time.”