The education world might look different in 2020 but it is still an essential piece of everyday life. Educators are working hard in their communities to forge ahead while continuing to develop the minds of a generation caught in a world of online and hybrid learning.
Newman University offers degrees in early, elementary and secondary education. Students and alumni are in the classroom and online working daily with children and their parents to help them navigate during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jessica Solis-Algrim ‘19 teaches kindergarten at Victor Ornelas Elementary in Garden City, Kansas. She has been teaching this year, so far, remotely.
She gave kudos to her district during these difficult times saying they started preparing for remote learning during the summer months.
Connecting with her students can be challenging at times and she said the social interaction between the children is the biggest challenge of all.
“In the classroom, you see a lot of conversations happening and students making connections with one another. But online we are missing that piece. Yes, we have time for students to say hello to each other but it isn’t quite how it would be if we were in the classroom.”
Beyond that challenge, things are as smooth as possible. She sets expectations such as setting up a desk area and encouraging the students to raise their hands when they want to speak. She also sets aside time for thinking – quiet time – and engaging with other students.
She relishes in the successes; students starting to speak in full sentences, understanding of the lessons and improvement in many other areas. She said watching them engage and witnessing their eagerness to learn are some of the things she enjoys most about teaching.
She also stays connected to parents, ensuring them that their students are receiving a quality education, even through remote learning, and also takes time to listen to their concerns and questions.
“Open communication is so important to me. I get to see my students every day at least once, but this is also a time for parents to ask questions and hear announcements. I also use ClassTag to communicate with parents, allowing them to text and add comments to anything I post.”
Teaching during a pandemic is certainly not something Solis-Algrim imagined for her career, but she said it’s a very unique experience that has its positives. Even though it’s through a screen, she is watching her students learn and grow, and that is what teaching is all about.