By Jo Mathis/AAPS District News Editor
Last week, some Allen Elementary teachers saw a Facebook post about how some teachers in a different state had driven their cars together through the neighborhoods of their students in order to be able to wave out the windows and say hello from afar.
They started talking about how that would be fun to do for their own students—until the governor ordered a shelter in place and they had to drop the idea.
That’s when fourth grade teacher Carly Groves came up with Plan B.
“I asked our staff if they wouldn’t mind sending me a picture of themselves, a selfie, a photo with a pet, their family, a well wish video, etc. I wanted to compile as many as possible to put into a Hello/We miss you! message from Allen school staff.
“I told staff that if they were uncomfortable with their photo or video being included, no worries, but hoped that many would participate.”
They participated, all right. Every general ed teacher and special area teacher sent photos or videos, along with TA’s, office staff, and support services for a total of 45 staff members.
“We have a very close staff that has been keeping in touch through virtual meetings, texts, e-mails, social media, and so on forth,” she says. “All of us miss being at school and we miss our students. I wanted to show that to our Allen families. I wanted students to see that their teachers are just like them. We are home with our families and pets during all of this too.”
The video was sent to Allen families Friday morning.
A new normal at home; remote teaching via Google Classroom
Groves says she saw a post on social media a couple of weeks ago about how teachers were probably excited for all the “time off.”
“But it’s the exact opposite,” she says. “This doesn’t feel good. It doesn’t feel happy. We are sad we aren’t at school and wish we were. We worry about our students and we miss them. We agree that these are the appropriate steps to keep people safe, but this isn’t a ‘vacation’ for us.”
For remote learning, Groves has a Google Classroom set up for her students, and also uses Seesaw and e-mail to communicate.
” At first it was stressful getting into a new routine with trying to work on the computer from home while needing to tend to my own children at home, posting materials, making sure students had all their login information, sending and returning e-mails, and checking student posts,” she says. “My husband is trying to work from home also and so he has been trying to find quiet space in order to get his work done too and all of us in one space have had challenges.”
Her three children are all trying to share the computers and devices in order to do enrichment activities for their own classes as well, so often they feel a bit stressed trying to juggle it all, she says.
“In the grand picture of everything going on, though, we are of course doing just fine compared to some, and are trying to keep spirits up,” she says. “I have been having fun e-mailing with students and families and seeing their posts on our learning platforms. They’re doing such a nice job and it is wonderful to connect with them. Students and parents send me videos of kids doing activities at home, well wishes, missing you messages, thanks for the hard work from home and all the activities I’m sending compliments, and supportive comments. Families and students have been wonderful through all of this.”
She says she’s been trying to make her messages to her students fun and upbeat.
“I have reassured them that every family needs to find what works best for them during this time and for them just to do their best,” she says. “I send jokes, funny pictures, neat videos that will make them smile, and I tell them what my family is up to so that they have a normal, human connection coming to them during all of this. I tell them how my son beat me in soccer in the backyard, how we played a family board game, that I miss them, and that I hope we are back soon.”