Our New Reality

It’s kind of crazy to think that I’m an online kindergarten teacher. My home office is set up on my kitchen table. Steve the stinkbug and Peanut the turtle are both home from school with me and I have added our usual springtime creatures to the mix. I ordered some caterpillars and made a little display, like I would if we were in the classroom, so I could show the kids while we were having our Zoom class meetings.

I miss the kids’ excitement when they are observing in person or when they see something in a book that they want to explore some more. I’m trying to do my best to encourage kids to head outside and find their own insects to observe. At our last Zoom meeting, one girl showed us a beetle that she was observing for science and a boy in our class has been doing awesome written observations of a caterpillar he found in his yard.

Our caterpillars are growing and changing. I’m trying to document the changes on my YouTube channel.

I have to admit, I’m really having fun with the technology aspect of teaching from home. I have loved learning iMovie and how to make YouTube videos. I still cringe when I watch my videos, but I’m sure the kids enjoy seeing their teacher once in a while. Classroom management is sure easy when you teach through video! I’m sure I’ll score ‘distinguished’ in this area on my evaluation this year.

In addition to our Zoom class meetings and creating science videos, I’ve been doing writing lessons for the kids. I record myself doing a model writing page and then upload it on YouTube for them to see. I’m still able to introduce new concepts. Parents have been sending me pictures of the kids’ work, but this week we are introducing SeeSaw. SeeSaw is an app that is very kid-friendly. The kids are able to take pictures of their work, record themselves reading their page to me, and send it to me for a recorded response. It’s pretty cool.

While we are required to do quite a bit online and through technology, I do realize that this in kindergarten. Kindergartners need to be active! So much of what they learn is by doing, and I know that some kids won’t be able to sit at a computer to play learning games and watch lessons all day. I’ve been trying to add in some fun extensions too. I’ve been doing these on my own time, usually on the weekends.

I purchased some awesome felt board stories from someone I found on Etsy. I started buying from her when I read something about how small business owners actually do a happy-dance when someone purchases an item from them. It reminded me to shop and buy from the little guy when possible. I went on Etsy to find some stories I could purchase and found DMCraftDesigns out of Yakima, Washington. The first one I purchased was The Little Red Hen.

Of course, as an extension activity to The Little Red Hen, you MUST bake bread. So, I showed my kids, through the magic of YouTube, how I bake bread and shared my favorite recipe with them. Bread baking happens at our house quite frequently.

My main reason for doing this over the weekend, rather than using my paid school time for this lesson, is that I feel guilty getting something yummy out of my paid work time. When you get warm bread out of the deal, you happily work on the weekend. Plus, who am I kidding? When you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work.

Thankfully, during this crazy quarantine and pandemic, I’m really enjoying the work. My son thinks I’m probably the least techie person in the world, but I know I there are a lot of people who are really overwhelmed right now with all of the tech stuff. Honestly, I don’t know everything, but I do love learning this stuff. It’s been really fun.

Overall, this pandemic is crazy. We have been home for several weeks now and really miss things like going out to eat, going to a movie, seeing friends and family, and grocery shopping without having a panic attack. On the school side of things, both of my kids have adjusted to online learning in high school and college and I’m really enjoying my new role as an online teacher. Who knows how long this will go… I’m worried about Fall, that’s for sure.

Happy learning!

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