Charlotte Habing – 4th Grade Teacher at Sigel St Michael Grade School
When do you remember first hearing about the pandemic?
On the news in February. Then early the week school was called off ,our Principal had told us that she was expecting them to dol. We found out right as we finished on Friday the 13th.
How did your role change when the school closed?
I went from being a teacher in the classroom to trying to figure out how to teach from my kitchen table. Figuring Out what work to give the kids.And how I was going to deliver that and how to deliver the instruction and communicate with parents. I don’t like teaching like that at all. I much prefer being face to face with the kids.
What did you do to support remote learning?
We had packet pick up for the parents. We tried to put as much online as possible. We used Google Classroom. I did video chats, we made videos to deliver instruction so it would take it off the parents. We gave them resources online so they could help their kids understand the content. I had parents texting me that their children were melting down so I talked to the students. I talked to parents. I sent videos to keep their spirits up and to keep them motivated. But by about mid-April they were done.
What is the internet like around here?
It depends on where you’re at. There are some areas that have almost no reception at all, cell phone reception even in some areas is super spotty. For many families it was really really tough and if they have three or four kids they had to take turns on the computer. Their internet couldn’t support more than one at the time. My internet was terrible. I tried the hotspot on the phone that was not super effective either. On the video calls I had kids in and out with connectivity issues. That was one of the most glaring issues that came out of this.
What was the biggest frustration?
The biggest frustration for me was not being able to see and interact with the kids. As a teacher that’s what you love. When they understand a concept seeing the lightbulb go on. Or when they’re frustrated having the opportunity to talk them down and make them feel better and get them motivated to try again. That and it took me twice as long to prepare the remote instruction as it does to prepare instruction to deliver in class. Our kids here don’t have the choice of remote since we’re private. But we do have quite a few out either COVID positive or in quarantine. So we have to deal with that. So that’s twice the work. I know the public schools are dismissing early to give the teachers a chance to do that. But we’re working a full day then preparing work for the kids who are gone. It is what it is and I’m glad to be back at school.
Were there new things that you learnt about?
I did a lot of professional development on remote learning. Online tools and resources that you could use for remote learning. That helped a lot. At the moment we’re spending a lot of time with kids on how to use those resources. Getting them on the sites.
What did you realize you took for granted?
The kids. Oh just the kids. Being with them. You don’t expect school ever to be cancelled like that.
What will you appreciate more?
Not wearing a mask. Freedom to go where you want without thinking about it.
What do you think will carry forward?
Some of the online tools and resources we used. The hygiene in the classroom. Wiping things down. Hand sanitizer and washing hands. I don’t think that will ever go back to being the same.