What do you do when you’re told your job is changing overnight, that you won’t be able to see your students, week after week, that the grading system you’ve been working with is no longer applicable? What do you do when you know your students and their families are struggling, emotionally, financially, even physically?
In RSU 18, educators faced with this reality overwhelmingly responded by doubling down and finding new and interesting ways to connect with their students on top of making resources available and scheduling numerous online meetings. From weekly lunches with students on Zoom to driveway dance-offs to old school mail and more, teachers pivoted to a whole new way of thinking and teaching with some truly beautiful outcomes.
Please enjoy this short compilation of just a few of the ways some of our educators have reached out to their students over the last few weeks.
Here is a cute snapshot of a Disguise-themed Zoom. I try to theme my Zooms. I know other teachers do this, too. We move the time of the Zooms around to accommodate family schedules. My colleague Katie Lee and I host mini-Zooms, too, with only a handful of kids.
I love this picture because it captures some of the family members close by to help, as needed. Some others are off-camera but comment during the Zoom sessions so I know they are present.
One thing about this younger level is that there is a lot more pressure on parents to “be the teacher.” I have a 9th grader. I check-in, ask questions, confirm that she is doing her work, and such. I am not in the position of having to do my work and be her homeschool teacher.
My hat is off to parents trying to juggle it all. . . often with multiple children.
Denice Hatch, Atwood Kindergarten teacher
High school English teacher Margaux DePue sent each of the students in her Hero Quest class a copy of Beowulf with beautifully personalized, handwritten notes.
Since the close of schools, I have been reaching out to six students that are library buddies — kiddos I saw frequently in the library and knew well. I decided to do “snail mail” to these students — I hand-stamped postcards, wrote notes and letters, talked about books, poems, reading genres, and even recipes. I had written an extremely easy 3-ingredient recipe to them for peanut butter cookies. When I called each student a couple of weeks later, I was thrilled to learn that one of my 6th-grade buddies had made them. His comment was, “Yeah, those were good! I made them with my grandfather.” It was just nice to know that a simple note could create this memory for him and his grandfather.
Denice Rivard ~ MMS Library Aid
Brynn Charest and I did a virtual farm tour at my house with 15 of our students. We also started delivering homemade maple syrup that was boiled at my sugar shack after we had tapped trees at the Atwood Primary School.
Tammy Pullen, Atwood 2nd grade.
We (myself and ed. tech Dolores Neptune) have connected with our classroom students by doing drive up dance sessions. Before all this, we would dance every morning. Ms. Neptune and I delivered letters, learning materials, and danced with them from a distance.
Lacey Studholme, CPS Second Grade
Atwood Ed Tech Mandy Belyeu did a driveway meet with one of her 1 on 1 students during the last week of school. They did zoom lessons every week and it was great to be able to see each other in person for a bit! She dropped off a little gift and was able to say goodbye for the summer!
I had a student request personal recorder lessons! Third grade had two lessons before we closed…I gave students the opportunity to get a school recorder and a couple of guide sheets to play on their own.
One had a little trouble so reached out and it went forward from there! This is Anderson Diehl, a 3rd-grade student in Mr. Hyland’s class.
Marjorie Goldrup, District music teacher
Al & Amanda Cotter visited each of their students’ homes at the beginning of May and delivered thoughtful care packages. They waved to them from a distance holding these sweet signs. I’m certain their smiles brightened our students’ days.
Mr. and Mrs. Rhein have been inviting MHS Music Alumni to join Chorus Zoom gatherings to share the work they are currently doing in music. Former student Ryan Brown joined from California where he is finishing up his Doctorate in Choral Conducting. Their daughter Nia and her husband joined from England, discussed their studies in music, and gave students a demonstration on the Harpsichord.
For those kiddos with quarantine/summer birthdays, the students send photos/drawings to me through SeeSaw and I pass them along to the birthday child — all online. It’s so fun receiving all the warm birthday wishes in my inbox (creations from giant posters, to driveway chalk drawings, to using the SeeSaw drawing option), and then sending them along to the birthday child. I also read a story that day in their honor.
Poohnay Weatherbie, Atwood First Grade