While there is physical distance between teachers and their students, that doesn’t mean there is an emotional distance. Rebecca Byers, first-grade teacher at Grand River Academy, has worked to ensure that her students are still being recognized and supported during these times of remote learning.
On April 26, Byers did something different to connect with her students by sending them a “Sunday Meeting” video. In that video, she shared good news, a joke of the day, made shout-outs for students, and did an overview of the lessons for the week.
Good news is something Byers has done in-person with her students, and in her classroom, she had a “brag-board” at school that she would post student work on. Shout-outs and the joke of the day is new and something she wants to continue doing once they are able to meet in-person.
Her Sunday Meeting wrapped up by doing an overview of the lessons for the week to ensure students are supported academically. “Being able to walk through what we are focusing on for the week helps students see and understand better what they can do at home,” Byers explained. “We want our students and families to know that we understand things are hard right now, but we are here to support them. We break up each subject and give an overview so that students don’t look at the whole packet and get overwhelmed.”
Students’ daily lives have changed so much due to the coronavirus pandemic, and teachers play such a big part in their students’ lives. Going from seeing their students five days a week to having that taken away so abruptly has presented a challenge for teachers. “I really wanted to give my students something that will make them excited during this time and know that just because I am not physically with them, I still care about them,” said Byers. “They need to know that we are not giving up on them or leaving them behind.”
Ralph Garza, principal at Grand River, reflected on how he feels seeing his teachers going above and beyond for their students. “I am amazed by the creative and intentional remote lessons and resources provided by staff,” said Garza. “When we rolled out our Remote Learning plan, teachers took off with the idea and personalized it. They continue to demonstrate the heart and passion for teaching showing that nothing will deter their efforts in ensuring students learn.”
As a school leader, Garza is overflowing with pride seeing his teachers show their support and compassion for their students’ families. “They continue to ensure their needs are met. They provide encouraging videos to reach out to students and have remained positive throughout this time and worked collaboratively to deliver our awesome remote plan.”
Thanks to technology, Byers is remaining connected to her students during uncertain times by using Class Dojo and Google Classroom. “What I love is you can easily send videos and pictures. Last week I sent a video to each of my students,” she shared. “On Google Classroom it’s great because students can write comments and I can respond and engage with them.
Educators everywhere are having to be innovative with their communications with students and for Byers having to record her lessons has helped her think about and plan what she wants to say more thoroughly. “It has also opened a whole new world of learning opportunities through the online resources,” she said. “There are so many great resources I never would have thought to explore. Even just planning with my team, we have learned better ways to plan lessons and work together.”
Keep up the great work!