Kathyrn Getty is a first year educator in New Jersey and a recent graduate of Kean University. She joined the Delta Rho Chapter of KDP in April 2018.
The 2019-2020 school year is my first year of professional teaching.
Going into my first year of teaching, fresh out of college, I was a mix of emotions.
I knew it was going to be difficult and that it was going to be a learning experience.
However, I never expected my first year of teaching to include a pandemic, resulting in remote learning.
Being a first grade teacher in an urban community, I have students who cannot readily access a tablet or computer and those who do not have internet.
The practicality of using a platform such as Google Classroom just wasn’t feasible for our demographic of students.
So, we spent hours upon hours printing packets that contained two weeks’ worth of instruction for ELA, math, science, and social studies.
The lack of printers in the building proved to be a huge issue.
In order for other grade levels to print out their materials, I volunteered to head to Office Depot and print the remainder of the packets that we were unable to complete at the school. Thank goodness, I had the KDP discount. Because of that, I saved $364.83!
The day before remote instruction began, parents had the entire day to come in and pick up their child’s materials.
Their materials consisted of two packets from the lead teacher, each consisting of one week’s work. In addition to that, work was also sent home for specials and my five gifted and talented students, and my seven ELLs were provided supplemental materials from the ELL teacher. Once the students had everything they needed, remote instruction was ready to begin on March 18th.
My main source of communication with the parents is Class Dojo, an application that parents can download on their smartphone or use on the computer. On Class Dojo I am able to post reminders, direct-message parents, and award points to students as an incentive. For weeks one and two, I recorded the students’ attendance if they answered a question I asked about their work for that day on their Class Dojo portfolio. In addition to Class Dojo, I also created an account with Splash Learn for students to get supplemental math practice, and I have been assigning students reading assignments through Raz-Kids.
One word that would describe my remote-learning experience is flexibility.
Many parents are essential workers and are unable to work with their children or contact me during the day. As a grade-level team, we decided to have the attendance question due by 9:00PM in order to accommodate those parents.
I have noticed that empathizing with the parents and remaining in constant communication helps put them at ease and allows the remote learning process to run more smoothly.
Most recently, our administration has told us to begin running Zoom sessions so that we can interact with our students and teach/answer questions in real time.
Being able to interact with my students has made me feel like a teacher again.
This situation is not ideal; however, I have learned more about adaptability and patience than I ever thought I would.
To know that others are dealing with the same scenario has shown me just how supportive and connected the teaching community is.
The Delta Rho chapter of KDP has begun a weekly “teachers lounge,” where officers and members log into Zoom to talk about our successes, struggles, ask for advice, and socialize “face to face”.
My favorite part about KDP has always been the connections and closeness of our chapter. A pandemic has not stopped us from socializing appropriately or growing as professionals. Even though we do not know when this pandemic will end, I am put at ease knowing that I have the support of my co-workers and Delta Rho chapter.
When we return to the classroom, I am confident that this whole experience will have made me a better teacher.