Kelly Huddleson, Bangor, CA

New teacher embraces challenges of COVID shutdowns

May 20, 2020 |
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We are asking rural communities to share how COVID-19 is impacting them. Read below about Lee Thao, a new teacher in Bangor, CA, adapting learning techniques to digital and guiding stress-relieving activities for her students' and their parents' wellbeing (submitted by Kelly Huddleson).

"During this COVID-19 Pandemic, I have continued to work closely with my candidate, Lee Thao. First, at school, then through zoom conferences, ongoing texts and telephone conversations. From what I have observed, Lee has strived to be the best possible teacher she can be under these difficult circumstances. She continues to work on the six California Standards for the teaching profession.

Lee works in a rural area with limited internet access which makes online learning difficult for many of the children. She had to develop distance learning packets for both first and second grade classes. As she designed the packets, she took into account the essential learning standards for both grades. In order to engage and support all students learning she had to differentiate many of the lessons using a variety of resources including the knowledge provided to her by our resource teacher. Also, she created a Class Dojo. This allowed for those who did have internet access to online enrichment. She included videos of her reading a weekly story. She asked some questions as she read and students could respond in the comment box. She attached a link which would take the kids to an Accelerated Reading site, so they could take a test and she could then check for their understanding. She also posted the weekly essential learning questions. These questions were aligned with the reading activities in the packets. Students were supposed to send in their responses to these questions. For many of the activities she has posted, the students were encouraged to send in a copy of their final project. She then posted them for the class to see.

To help support the social emotional well-being of her students and parents, she makes a weekly connection with them on Class Dojo. On this site, she has videos about growth mindset, perseverance, gratitude etc. She connects with them with a weekly email letting everyone know she is available for help at any time. She also sent each of her students a letter letting them know how important they are to her.

In addition to supporting her students, and teaching from a distance, Lee continues to work on professional development during this time. Some of the classes she’s taken include, How to use Zoom, How to Create instructional videos to send to students, Boosting Resilience, Tools to promote positive relationships with teachers/parents/advocates, Assessment, Accountability and System of Support from the California Department of Education,TK-2 teachers- take lessons online, Screencastify and Child Trauma Academy.

For a new teacher, Lee continues to amaze me with her creativity, determination, and dedication to her students. She strives to be the best and takes the needs of her students into consideration even in the most dire circumstances. During the pandemic, Lee has remained open-minded, and most of all, flexible. She is constantly adapting and continuing to be positive as she moves forward to make the best of this situation for her students. It has truly been my pleasure to work with such an amazing, young educator, and I look forward to working with Lee in the upcoming school year."

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