How Zillenial Teachers are Creating a Positive Shift in Change during COVID

During times of uncertainty, pain, loss, and dismay, it can be hard to look for the bright light of positivity in life. While scrolling on Instagram, I had noticed graduated friends and family of mine posting different teaching plans and activities they had scheduled for their students. It instantly filled so much warmth in my heart to see how wonderful, ambitious, and driven these women are impacting their students from a distance. So many teachers, especially Britt, Mary, and Sarah, put in so much work they put in to make their newly altered learning experience all the better. 

 

  1. 1. Brit Fichter

    Teacher standing with Classroom Decorations

    "Planning has been very different. I am the type of teacher who believe in flexible seating, small group instruction, partner work, morning meetings on the carpet, etc. Now things have been turned upside down! All carpets, extra tables, recess games have been removed from the classroom. In our school we needed as much space as we could get to be able to safely sit our students 6 feet apart. 

    My school is currently in session via in-person and virtual. Therefore, I have 17 students infront of me and 6 students online. Each lesson I plan I have to think of a new way to engage ALL my students. I sent each virtual student home with all the materials my students in school have. They all have mini white boards, access to all iPad apps, and reading cell phones made out of PVS pipe to hear themselves read. I am a big fan of allowing students to test around the room on clip boards and have turn and talk discussions with the person next to them.... now it’s different. I now incorporate Silly brain break activity. All stusnets, even zoom will play a Simon says call and repeat game. I will have students on zoom ask in-person learned questions over the smart board. Each day during snack time I turn the iPad around for all the virtual students to see the kids in the classroom and vise Vera and it’s the best thing!!! They get so excited to see their friends. I would definitely say planning now ALWAYS 100% has a technology piece in it. 

    I have to display things on the smartboard for all students and I work off of like 3 devices.. but I have learned that patience’s and understanding is what everyone needs to deal with what is going on." 

  2. 2. Mary Elchert

    Woman teaching a class on Whiteboard

    "I graduated in 2015 and, during my classes, I always imagined myself teaching in a brick and mortar classroom. Never would I have thought 5 years later, I would be teaching behind a computer. However, just because I'm not with my students in person doesn't mean I can't connect with them.

    I started a new job this year teaching high school learning support students. Now more than ever, our students need to be guided and teachers need to be understanding of the limitations that have presented themselves. A lot of my students are sharing technology with siblings or are in homes that are less than ideal for learning. It is important that I keep that in mind every time I turn on my laptop to teach and work with students. I'm not just working against Covid-19; I'm also working against poverty, neglect, prejudices, and overwhelming social media. As my principal and so many educators echo: "We are building a plane as we're flying it." 

    Each day I try to connect with my students and their families to know I am here to offer support, whatever that may look like. Before school started, I called a large number of my students' families to introduce myself and provide them with contact information so they can reach me whenever. I hold office hours every day and I try to build a rapport with my students before launching into virtual lessons. I may not be there physically, but I'm still there and that's important for my students and their families." 

  3. 3. Sarah Armbruster

    Teacher smiling in a Classroom

    "Last February, I accepted a job as a middle school special education teacher. As you can imagine, beginning my teaching career during a pandemic was not typically ideal for a person like me. I am somebody who is functioning on a strict routine. I need things to go smoothly or else I am an anxious mess. Even though I can be super anxious and things can be difficult for me, I still put my students first. I can only imagine how hard it is for them, especially at their age. 2020 has been really exhausting, long, and hard for all of us so being a kid in middle school and not really having all of the knowledge about what’s really going on in the world is tough. They’re constantly wondering what’s going on, and us adults are barking orders at them. I try to keep this in mind when I interact with my students. Building positive relationships is an important part of being a teacher. This year my students are required to learn virtually, however, some students have the opportunity to come to school two days a week. During these two days, I put effort into making my classroom a calm and welcoming space for my students. Each day my students are greeted with baked goods at the door, because empty stomachs are not a thing when you’re around me. I’ve also created a peaceful reading corner for my students to use. There is a classroom library filled with a diverse case of books, and I mean GOOD books that I loved at their age. I take pride in getting to know my students. For example, every morning we share how we are feeling on a scale from 1-5 for a mental health check. Although this year is different for us, we are making the most of it. My goal as a new teacher is to focus on making school an amazing atmosphere for every type of student. I love education and I love teaching academics, however, mental health and a fun learning environment will always come first in my classroom.

Trailblazers such as these individuals are going to be the wave of change we need in our education system that will better not only this generation, but many to follow.