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Tech tools are now ‘part of everyday life’ for teachers – School News Network

Editor’s note: Despite the many hurdles of the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers have seen positives shine through in the lessons – and gifts – they have experienced after being forced to try new things. This school year, School News Network is sharing the experiences of Kent ISD teachers. We’d love to hear yours too. Please email your thoughts to [email protected] for possible inclusion in a future issue.

Tracy Kraft, math teacher, Godwin Heights High School

As an educator, what lessons or gifts have you found from the pandemic?

The greatest gift the pandemic has given me is a deep appreciation for in-person interaction and connection with students and staff. Before the pandemic, I went to work; I loved seeing students, but I couldn’t imagine a day when I wouldn’t see them every day in class. Like most things in life, you don’t realize what you have until it’s gone.

Have there been any unexpected positives from difficult circumstances, such as new ways to reach students, connect with parents, and collaborate with other teachers?

Teaching during COVID has required everyone (students, administrators, teachers, parents) to be creative, communicate and collaborate more than ever. Before the pandemic, I don’t remember using Google Meet/Zoom; now these tools are part of everyday life. During the first months of the pandemic, I felt like I was learning a new technology feature every day. With this increase in technology, educators were able to reach students and parents in a way that had never been done before. Parent-teacher conferences were able to be done virtually, opening up access to parents who potentially had barriers or transportation constraints like working hours or not having childcare to attend the former conferences in person. Students learned to schedule Google Meets with teachers for extra help. These things didn’t exist before the pandemic, but now I can’t imagine going back to the old way of teaching without these tech tools in our teacher toolbox.

Renee Hackley

Renae Hackley, sixth grade science teacher, Godwin Heights Middle School

As an educator, what lessons or gifts have you found from the pandemic?

During the pandemic, there were a lot of lessons I learned that were both difficult but also gifts at the same time. One was the gift of creativity. I was able to look at our science curriculum, get creative, and focus on the standards students needed to know. It took time and patience, but I was able to create both in-person and online classes that met the needs of many students at varying levels, which meant this year I had many options to work with in based on what works best for each of our classes. and students. Differentiation within courses is vital and the pandemic has helped me create even more of these ways in our curriculum.

Have there been any unexpected positives from difficult circumstances, such as new ways to reach students, connect with parents, and collaborate with other teachers?

There are two unexpected positive aspects of our difficult circumstances within the pandemic that quickly come to mind. First, this fall, I was not expecting responses from students who were seeing me for the first time in person and were online all last year. They came down to my room (or I saw them in the hallway) and hugs were given and I could see them smiling through their masks. We already had a connection, but it was the unexpected joy on their faces that really made this first week this fall amazing. The second positive point is the way of communicating with parents and having conferences. We’ve used Google Meet so often over the past few years, so we’ve been able to meet families this fall in person and online. I have had a large number of meetings with families due to my flexibility with two specific ways of communicating. This has resulted in more consistent communication as well as technology applications that help us stay connected throughout the school year with families.

Jessica Haslacker

Jessica Haslacker, Kindergarten Teacher, West Godwin Middle School

As an educator, what lessons or gifts have you found from the pandemic?

During the pandemic, I’ve had a knack for getting to know my students’ parents and families on a much deeper level. As teachers, we have become available at all times for the families of our students. With them seeing us on screen and being able to walk into the sessions with a quick question, we got to know them very well. This allowed us to develop incredible bonds with parents. This bond really made our students want to work hard because now, with their teachers on screen and their parents in the background, they knew everyone on their team was working together. I think an extension of that gift was that the parents felt very comfortable with us and it allowed them to open up to us with any needs they might have during these difficult times. We have really worked to connect school, families and community during this time and it has been a great gift.

Have there been any unexpected positives from difficult circumstances, such as new ways to reach students, connect with parents, and collaborate with other teachers?

I am lucky to be part of a team of teachers who are always in communication with each other. I never thought we could improve, but during these unusual teaching times, we really collaborated even more and came up with some great systems that worked for us as a team. Teamwork and balancing the workload for all of us was so equal and valued because we all worked together. We’re still using some of the great resources we’ve created during this time to keep our teaching running smoothly and to be truly prepared for anything.

We have all used our strengths to come together during this time. A few teachers weren’t as tech-savvy and suddenly found themselves teaching online. We were all able to work together to make sure we were all successful with the new method. We really had to collaborate on a whole new level during those times and that was the best part of it.