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  • Writer's pictureScience 20/20 Team

Teaching During COVID-19 (Part III) - Carolyn Stoughton

Hello! Welcome back to the Science 20/20 blog! This is the third installment of the “Teaching During COVID-19” story. In this installment, Carolyn Stoughton shares her thoughts regarding student teaching. I never expected my student teaching to be cut short by the school closures due to COVID-19. I mean, at first it was two weeks, and while that put a break in me seeing the students in my class and school, I at least had the hope that I would go back to teaching and learning from them. However, as the COVID-19 cases increased, I slowly realized that we would not be going back. As the Hazleton Area School District, as others in Pennsylvania, were trying to figure out how to provide an education to students remotely, I saw social media posts of teachers driving by students’ houses, writing letters, making videos, and more. Melanie and I soon realized that this was what we wanted to do too.

We were only planning on making one video to give students the chance to see a familiar face, something we all wanted during the closures, but this suddenly

turned into so much more. Throughout the last two months of our student teaching, we made a video everyday to engage students in various subjects, including science, math, reading, and writing. One of my main concerns with these videos was access and how we could reach the most students. Something that I struggled with was how to reach those students who didn’t have internet and device access--something many schools are still trying to figure out today. However, there was another way that we could try to provide access--including Spanish and emergent bilingual teaching strategies into our videos. Hazleton has a high population of Spanish-speakers from various countries and cultures, which is why we wanted to make sure that these students and families were provided access to the content. It is hard to wrap your head around the idea of remote instruction, but it is even harder if you do not know the language in which the teachers are instructing. As a result, we searched for ways to help make the content accessible.

I was so happy to get to use some of the Spanish Piggy and Elephant books that I received for Christmas and to use my Spanish learning to help bridge the communication between families, students, and the school. We used visuals, Spanish, and repetition to try to increase English skills and content knowledge. We made sure to try to introduce each lesson in Spanish so that family members would know what we were going to be discussing. It took time to navigate Zoom and make the video lessons (which involved many retakes), but it was worth it to know that we were able to connect with some students. I love teaching and was thrilled and excited to provide instruction to students while they could not be in school.

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