These past two weeks have been nothing short of a whirlwind of changes. We all anticipated returning from Spring Break and jumping back into our regular school routine of morning meetings, building challenges, math and word work, and social interaction. Yet, what we encountered was a new reality; a quick transition to distance learning in order to ensure the safety of students, faculty, and families due to the arrival of COVID-19 in our lives. Were we prepared to jump headfirst into distance learning? No. However, I was amazed to see and experience the resiliency of our PNA community as we transitioned to an online platform with an amazing amount of communication, flexibility, and grace.
I have to admit. I was nervous. I still am in ways on how I can best serve my students. Yet, my main concerns were "How am I going to continue to help my students grow? How can I be the teacher they need me to be? How can I recreate what we have in the classroom through a screen?" Well, all I can do, all any of us can do, is our best. I still see my students growing as they challenge themselves to spell new words and find patterns in their reading. To have a student struggle over a word in a text we are reading together and then master that word, reading it independently in their books shows me that they can still grow and learn regardless of how that material is delivered. I know that I cannot recreate what we have in class; our classroom - and school - is a unique place. Yet, to see each other's faces during morning meeting, to talk, share, and listen in small groups, to discover, to laugh and be silly - these are all present online and are all components of what we have in our physical classroom. It's not the same but it is still rich and full of community.
This past week I feel we have fallen into a sort of rhythm. My days are full of back-to-back online lessons, working with my students and trying to meet them where they are and trying to push them a bit further. Art and Spanish rolled onto the scene and students were able to have online class and interactions with their specialist teachers. I was able to see the growth of my student's plants, listen to their recordings of their classwork and thoughts on virtual field trips, as well as feel confident that my students are ready to move forward with more challenging work that will prepare and have them ready for 2nd grade. As with all challenges, we must modify our normal and do our best with what we have. I feel that our families have shown tremendous flexibility and our students have shown tremendous GRIT, and I hope that we can establish this distance learning as our new normal so that we can make the absolute best of our time together while we all work together to make our community, and world, a healthy place again.
Ms. Tuomi has over five years experience in ASD, where she taught first and fifth grade classrooms. An avid skier, Ms. Tuomi is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Alaska Pacific University’s Bachelor of Arts in K-8 Education.