Teaching During COVID-19 (Part II) - Melanie Marcano
Hello! Thank you for visiting the Science 20/20 blog! This is the second installment of the “Teaching During COVID-19” story. In this installment, Melanie Marcano shares her thoughts regarding student teaching.
As I reflect on my student teaching experience during the COVID-19 school closures, I can only describe it as “conflicting, yet so rewarding.” The week prior to the schools shutting down, there was this underlying panic within the school. I remember teachers asking questions such as, “What do we need to prepare?” and “When will we [ELC] close?” My mentor teacher and I had a quick conversation the Friday before the closing about planning for the next week with the uncertainties of the future.
I recall her saying to me, “...just wait until we get more information before you start to plan your week.” The next moment I remember, the school had officially closed for two weeks. Carolyn and I were left at a standstill with nowhere to go. After a few days had passed, the conversation came up with possibly creating content for students to watch dur
ing the two weeks that the students were out. As passionate educators, we both agreed to create a YouTube channel to share with our students back in Hazleton.
In the first week, Carolyn had proposed the idea of a read-aloud to introduce our channel to our students. I remember she picked the book, Waiting is not easy by Mo Willems. We wanted to provide our students with the recognition that waiting to return back to school will not be easy. Our teaching videos were starting to take off. After some time, our videos were being seen by students from different school districts as well as different grades. In our first week of recording, Carolyn and I spent hours trying to film the correct takes with the correct translations from English and Spanish. We worked hard with teaching the lessons together from two different cities. We had set times to meet as well as to strategically plan our next video. When I reflect back on the experience, Carolyn and I had great collaboration skills. With COVID taking over, it was difficult for us to create a new teaching routine. We were used to being ready by 7:15 am and leaving the school by 3:45 pm. The fact that we were able to adapt to the new filled schedule of Zoom calls, school life, work-life, and family life, showed me as well as many others just how dedicated we were to supporting the Hazleton community.
The closure of school for two weeks quickly transitioned to closure for a month. Carolyn and I were both anxious as we wanted to provide equitable access to all of our students and their families. We had countless conversations about how we could provide this access to students, who did not have technology or access to the internet. As we planned and worked through the logistics of our Youtube Channel, “Aprende with Us," we found that many school districts were creating videos and resources for their students.
It was a great feeling to know that we were able to support the Hazleton Area School District through videos and attending meetings with other educators. The moment that I realized how important our videos were to our students was during a Zoom meeting with our kiddos. One student mentioned that she saw us in the videos and watched them every day. My heart just gleamed with so much joy. All of the super early mornings and the 30,000 takes of repeating vowel sounds were worth this small moment.
I think with the vagueness of COVID-19 and the direction of the school, it was difficult to navigate the needs of our students and their families. I wanted to grow and finish my semester strong as a student teacher. I never thought that the pandemic would take over the United States in this way. Through all of the anxiety and stay-at-home orders, it was refreshing to have an activity to complete every day. I looked forward to teaching and uploading it for students to watch. Students were engaged and submitting their work to us. We received such wonderful comments from students, parents, and administrators. Student teaching was such a learning experience that I am grateful I had the opportunity to work with such amazing people. I am also grateful that our mentor teachers, the principal, and the Hazleton community were there to support us as well.