Marching On: Teaching Without a Classroom

Determined to keep providing English classes the education department at the Center for New Americans built an online program.


CNA teachers say hi on Zoom©.

The teachers at the Center for New Americans put their students first. So saying, with all the life changing events in the past few months, the teachers were determined to keep their students well being and educational needs at the foreground as doors were locked, businesses closed, and residents were encouraged to stay home.



Outside the LSS building, water tight tubs hold class packets for students.

This unprecedented situation called for creativity and adaptability, and the CNA teachers took the plunge to build an entire online education program for the refugees and immigrants in the Sioux Falls area. This endeavor posed unique problems, in particular, ensuring that students had the appropriate technology, applications, and Internet access.
After researching multiple online platforms and considering the pros and cons, teachers began helping several students download and install Zoom© in the final days of March. Outreach continued through April, as teachers created handouts and videos to help students.
As of today, over 100 students have successfully navigated and joined English, citizenship, and special classes via virtual classrooms.


A teacher’s desk is setup for a day of online English classes.

What made this online transition successful?
Teachers with patience and determination, the willingness to fail, and most of all, contacting the families. If the family is supporting the student, helping them navigate the technology, making sure they have a quiet space to learn from their English teachers, then the student will be successful online.
What does the future bring us?
Online classes or hybrid classes may continue to be implemented in the months ahead. The Center for New Americans is putting the health and safety of their students first and will continue to provide essential English classes in whatever way necessary.

A few quotes from our wonderful education staff:

“This has been a Herculean effort, with every teacher working tirelessly to overcome language and technology barriers to build this program and continue to serve our students. Even though COVID has kept us physically apart, Zoom© classrooms have allowed us to retain what is so special about the Center for New Americans: our connection to our students whom we love so much.”~~Teacher Lindy

“We feel grateful that our students have been so adaptable and willing to try out the new, unfamiliar technology. We’re also thankful that the students’ family members are able to help them use the technology at home.”~~Teacher Kate

“The students have been so dedicated to continuing their learning, figuring out this technology and all the issues that come with it – and all without complaining! This is outside all of our comfort zones, but they are so patient and persistent. I’m so proud of them.”~~Teacher Amy

“The benefits of using online classes have surprised me. I have had students that struggled in the traditional classroom begin to flourish in the online platform.”~~Teacher Heather

“Zoom© teaching has grown on me. I am impressed with our team about how fast we had the Zoom© classes up and running, with no prior training or experience.”~~Teacher Silke

Written by Heather Glidewell | LSS Center for New Americans | Adult ESL Instructor
300 East 6th Street, Suite 100 | Sioux Falls, SD 57103
1-866-242-2447 toll free | 605-731-2059 fax

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