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Reflections from Tracy Elmore

As an educator, this quarantine time for COVID-19 has allowed me to flip my classroom for eLearning. I am very fortunate because my district is 1:1 and was one of the pilot districts for eLearning. For the past two years this has been familiar ground for our students, parents and teachers. During this time, I am using a variety of platforms for students to interact with their peers and myself through digital sessions from BreakoutEdu and utilizing video clips about the importance of washing our hands to wash away germs like viruses. In addition, I am hosting video blogs on Flipgrid using current news reports such as UofSC 3D printing face shields for our health care providers at MUSC. I am using Nearpod with current event news articles for students to read and respond, such as the article about the Chicago Aquarium releasing penguins after the exhibit closes due to COVID-19. I am using Screencastify and Screencast-o-matic to flip my  classroom for instruction or guidance for students to understand how to complete assignments. I am also using Google Jamboard for digital Engineering notebooks. My students are able to sketch solutions with annotations and add images for their design challenges such as designing a load bearing tower with a suspended container using everyday items around the house. 

My district has used eLearning for the past two years. Although students, parents, and teachers are familiar with using Google Classroom as our platform for assignments, I still have met challenges through this learning process. One of the challenges we all face is eLearning was not intended to be used for a lengthy time, only short term like a snow day or a weather make-up day. Connecting with students and parents through email, Google Chat, or Adobe Connect has helped most students remain successful. However, some students do not have Internet access or parents’ hesitation for security purposes presents challenges of students receiving and returning assignments. I continually send out weekly emails to check on my students, as well as, video chat sessions to let them know I am here for them and miss them. I have learned through this process what our students are dealing with besides school work. I have students who tend to their younger siblings and help them with their eLearning assignments before they can even begin their own work. I have students who are having to take care of their parents due to surgeries or other circumstances. In addition, many of our students are seeing their parents worry about where their next meal will come from or how to pay the electric bill. Having this new perspective into their lives helps me better understand who they are and how I can care for my students on a deeper level. 

 I feel it is imperative for us to remember that we aren’t the only teacher our students have, and school is not the only thing on their minds. We have to do all we can to help them be successful through these uncharted waters.

One of  the best times during our quarantine has been when the teachers from my school drove through the neighborhoods of our students to show them how much we miss them and are looking forward to getting back to school and interacting with them. Seeing the students with signs they made for us was such an amazing and motivating boost for our staff. I miss the face to face interaction with my students, their sweet smiles and funny antics that make teaching a rewarding career. So we wait, and we collaborate, using technology to make the best learning experience for our students,  in hope we will be back together in the classroom soon. Yes, technology is great and important in this day and age, but it can’t replace real teaching, and the relationship between student and teacher is still the most vital part of making learning successful.

 

Tracy Elmore

Upcountry STEM Educator Regional Finalist

Gateway to Technology Teacher 6th – 8th grade

 Lugoff-Elgin Middle School 

Kershaw County 

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