Imagine choosing a career that allows for constant interaction with people - where everyday offers routine but still keeps you challenged. You have learned the very definition of “monitor and adjust” and utilize it to meet the needs of every person you come into contact with daily. You’re a planner, creator, subject-area expert, statistician, entertainer, and sometimes a stand-in parent. You’re a teacher.
While we watch the teachers of El Dorado School District daily strive to help our students succeed, going above and beyond in the classroom. During this unprecedented national pandemic, we have seen our teachers stretch themselves, meet challenges head-on, learn new methods of teaching, and go out of their way to make contact with students to ensure their success doesn’t falter.
Elementary teachers have taken technology usage for K-4 students to the next level, learning how to use Google Classroom and then teaching their students how to use it. Long-time teachers like Joan Cunningham from Hugh Goodwin who preferred traditional means of connecting with her students through phone calls and notes home to parents, have stepped out of their comfort zones to learn the technology needed to keep up with their students during this time.
Yocum first-grade teacher Leanne Barnett has been creating her own videos to provide extra resources for her students. Barnett had most of her students’ parents on a closed Facebook group, so she posts videos there every school day at 8 AM. “I find that pre-recorded videos work well because parents can access them at any time,” says Barnett.
Principal Michelle Henry said, “All of our teachers have stepped out of their comfort zones and into the learning zones, to learn the technology required to teach their students virtually.”
Grade level teachers across all elementary schools have been meeting regularly through Google Meet or Zoom calls to share knowledge and ideas to help everyone reach their students most effectively during this time. Henry, who was just announced as the new Curriculum and Instruction Administrator was excited to see that “Elementary teachers are working across buildings as one team to help all elementary students!”
Northwest First Grade teacher Roddie Calloway was nervous about virtual teaching. She says, “I'll be completely honest with you, I was terrified when I was told that I had to learn and use Google Classroom! I'm not the most experienced computer person and I only had a short window of time to learn and apply myself to this ‘new’ way of teaching.” After starting off simple, Mrs. Calloway says she began to branch out once she became more comfortable with the programs used to teach her students online.
Second grade teacher Linda Trostle has also learned a lot by teaching her students virtually. “Teachers love the children that have been placed in our care. Our desire is to continue to be a part of students’ lives as they grow and learn. In this time of quarantine, we’ve gotten to talk to our students on a more personal level and sprinkle in some content review. It is a time we will never forget.”
At the high school level, teachers and coaches are thinking, and working, outside the box to ensure their students’ success. According to EHS Principal Sherry Hill, teachers are utilizing technology platforms such as Google Classroom to keep in touch with students. Additionally, teachers like Jennifer McGehee, coaches Jae Kell and Ashlee Curtis, and many others, are also making home visits to help students with registrations, getting and turning in AMI packets, and even helping them apply for post-high school programs, while still maintaining the requirements of social distancing. Football Coach Steven Jones and Cheer Coach Tab Bledsoe are conducting virtual team meetings to check-in with their students, give workout recommendations, and even conduct some virtual practices.
Many teachers throughout the district have adjusted their working hours to help accommodate students who have working parents and are having to complete their work in the evenings. Teachers are holding daily or weekly meetings with their students and their colleagues to stay connected.
“This is an unprecedented time in our world,” said Superintendent Jim Tucker, “and I have been amazed at the work our teachers have put in to ensure our students continue to learn and succeed through this school year.”