Article and Photography by Connor Smith | Owl Staff
Trouble sitting still for hours at a time, distractions from toys, and inevitable problems with technology. These are all problems that my mother, Susan Smith, faces from her students on a daily basis as she teaches her class of kindergarten through a virtual Microsoft Teams meeting. While many may consider this a big challenge, Smith considers it her destiny.
“Regardless of the situation with COVID-19, my destiny has been and always will be to teach kids- what’s changed for me is the means that I use to achieve that destiny,” Smith states. A veteran teacher of thirteen years, Smith has certainly seen her fair share of challenges. None of which has changed the way she goes about achieving her destiny quite like the pandemic has.
“There was in-person instruction before the pandemic hit and it was easier to assess [my students] academically. Now I’ve had to completely shift the strategies I use to assist them and gain an understanding of where they’re at in terms of their academic growth,” Smith says. She goes on to say those strategies are all virtual, with a heavy emphasis on the utilization of Microsoft Teams, Padlet, FlipGrid, and ItsLearning.
When asked why she believes COVID-19 hasn’t made her destiny change, Smith replies, “It’s always been the destiny of every teacher to make sure their students do well [regardless of circumstance]. Just because a global pandemic occurs, that doesn’t mean that we want to help kids less.” That didn’t stop her from mentioning the challenges presented by the new means of achieving her destiny.
“COVID-19 is making teachers have to think outside of the box to help accommodate the learning goals and growth of students, and while it makes my job harder, it still is just as rewarding to see my kids thrive,” says Smith. She says that while she does see her students growing, it isn’t at nearly the same rate it would be if there were in-person instruction.
“Students just aren’t growing as quickly in online school,” Smith says. Although she has some apprehension about going back to in-person instruction due to the inability to social distance with large class sizes, Smith believes that it’s best for the students so they can get back on track with their education and if they were to remain online, they would fall behind in their studies.”
According to Smith, her students have seemed to do well while learning virtually with the only hiccup being some minor technology issues.
Smith is taking the opportunity that COVID-19 virtual learning is giving her and making the best she can of it. While we don’t yet know when we’ll return to normalcy, Smith is already planning on taking the lessons she’s learned from the challenges of virtual learning and applying that to her in-person classes. This way, she can continue to fulfill her destiny of teaching kids in the best way that she can.