Kindergarten Teacher, Instagram: @enchantedkindergarden
Regardless of your situation, you can probably agree that navigating life during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge, to say the least.
For a clear example, consider teaching.
One teacher, Keri, explained the touch-and-go, guess-and-check nature of teaching approaches during the ongoing health crisis simply: “It has been really, really difficult,” she explained.
Keri, who teaches kindergarten, has been remote teaching since the beginning of the pandemic — a choice that has been a learning experience for her, the students she teaches, and her students’ guardians at home.
Changes in planning
One of the ways remote working has shifted her teaching approach is how she plans lessons.
“Most teachers are hoarders,” she joked. “Most things we need are there; we just pull something out because a student needs it.”
But at home, for example, Keri can’t simply hand a student a school supply or tool through their computer. Instead, she has to think ahead by several months about what her students might need to complete their lessons, and then stock baggies with those supplies that students then pick up from her in person, in advance.
Essentially, planning has switched from going week-to-week, to quarter-by-quarter in light of COVID-19.
“I’ve never had to plan this far in advance!” said Keri, explaining that she keeps numerous detailed spreadsheets on hand to help her stay organized.
Engaging her students
In terms of engaging her students, Keri has had to innovate. Particularly, because her students didn’t know each other well, she’s had to find ways to foster their social interactions with each other via the web.
She provided this example: “We stop and speak to each other so everybody has to tell everyone who’s on the call, ‘Good morning!’” she explained, noting that this exercise takes about five to 10 minutes each morning, which is a significant chunk of time in the context of her class length. At first, she added, “I thought it was a waste of time, but if somebody’s not there, they will ask, ‘Where is so and so?’ So they’re paying attention to me, and that’s really all you can do.”
Finding a bright spot
Another part of her job that has evolved due to the pandemic is her communication with the guardians of her students.
“I have to talk to my students’ parents every single day and I feel like I probably sometimes get on their nerves,” she said, laughing. “But there’s always something to tell them or send them. Every day we are in full-blown communication.”
In contrast, before the COVID-19 pandemic, Keri would send occasional notes to her students’ parents, but the communication was typically only one-way and she’d rarely get a response.
“Now,” she said, “I can see when a parent sees my note. They’ll say, ‘Thank you’ or ‘I have a question.’ It’s instant and easier to talk to parents, so that has been nice.”
Of course, just as it has been with her students, getting used to remote lessons has been new for guardians, too.
“I have taught grandparents, cousins, uncles — whoever the kid ends up with I am having to teach somebody to do something,” Keri said. “So it’s a learning curve for everyone.”