In this new edition of #HowWeGotThis, Anne-Laure BREDEHOFT, primary teacher at LFSF on the Ashbury campus, tells us more about her teaching experience during the pandemic and her current class projects, such as an exchange organized with peer students in an Elementary school in Northern France.
LFSF: Hi Anne-Laure, could you please tell us about you, your role at LFSF and a little about your background?
Anne-Laure: Hi, I’m Anne-Laure and I am a Gr2 teacher on the Ashbury campus where I’ve been teaching for the past 3 years. Before then, I worked as a substitute teacher on the Sausalito campus. I was also involved with the camps, and acted as a Camp Director since 2012 when I moved from France to Marin with my husband - who’s originally from the North Bay - and our two children.
(Anne-Laure and her students on the Sausalito Campus before Covid-19 pandemic)
LFSF: While most local students were still learning remotely, the Ashbury campus reopened for elementary students as early as October 2020, with strict safety protocols in place. Could you describe your experience over the past six months and how have you’ve adapted once again your teaching approach to that New Normal?
Anne-Laure: In fact, sixteen of my students are currently learning on-site and two are attending class remotely and I’ve been amazed to see how they easily and quickly adapted to the new normal and to the rules and health protocols on campus. For example, they are very good at respecting the physical distance requirements or avoiding sharing things and they wear their masks diligently all day.
For me, the main challenge has been to teach my remote students. I want to make sure they are able to understand the content we share in the classroom every day and that they feel they too belong to the class. The students and I can see them on my laptop screen, we can hear them through a sound box which is also a camera that films the class. But as they are not physically in the classroom, it’s more difficult to check on them, to ‘look over their shoulder “ to check and assess their work on the fly, or to get their full attention as they are watching a screen and are more subject to distractions. To address this issue, in addition, I meet them separately on Fridays to catch up with them, revisit lessons, read aloud,... to make sure they don’t fall behind.
(Anne-Laure and her class on the Ashbury Campus)
I also changed my process to adapt to this new situation. Now I prepare my lessons with Notebook, scan all the activities, the worksheets, take screenshots of students’ documents and paste them so I can project them on the board to my students in the classroom when simultaneously sharing them with my remote learners. This way, even from their home, they can clearly see where we are at, what we are reading, highlighting, writing…
We are trying our best to include them with the rest of the class, to have them participate, raise their hands. Each week, I create a ‘Leaflet’ for them, showing the lesson plans of the upcoming week, with the activities, lessons, homework, online activities to do and extra work if needed. The parents upload their work on a google drive shared folder, including videos of their work. I have a few videos of them reciting a poem : it’s so cute!
(Anne-Laure teaching in her class on Ashbury)
My remote students also joined us for our favorite library time and have music and drama sessions weekly. It is really important for me and the children to do all we can to preserve our group and we invest a lot of effort to make sure they are well included but mostly, I really miss seeing them in class!
LFSF: You are currently organizing, in collaboration with a teacher in France: an exchange project between your students (Gr2B) and their peers from the Victor Hugo school located in Marcq-en-Barœul, in the suburbs of Lille, France. Could you tell us how this project came to be, and how students have been engaging virtually with their French counterparts?
Anne-Laure: It all started when our new student, Louis, arrived from France, late November. Louis had started his CE1 (Gr2) year in his French school because his family was not sure when they were going to receive their visas to move to San Francisco since the immigration services had been backlogged due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And when he finally moved, his teacher suggested we start corresponding and exchanging letters between our two classes. I loved this idea because it felt like a nice way for Louis to keep a relationship with his French class but also it’s a great way for my other students to practice their writing, their spelling and to enrich their vocabulary. It provides a concrete and practical purpose for their writing and gives them a unique opportunity to get to know children of the same age, in France, who also are going to school and learning similar things. It’s a great and relevant way to be exposed to French language and culture!
So far, we received 2 letters from them and we sent 2 as well, via email. We also sent a short video in which students introduced themselves.
(Video of Gr2 students introducing themselves to their French peers)
The idea is for both classes to exchange on 4 themes: the class, the school, our class projects, and the city. For example, we shared with them the recordings of Mr Delamotte’s visit, and the drama skits we did before the Christmas break or also the time when we sang Santiano, outside, with the two other CE1(Gr2) classes.
Although French schools are closing again under the recent lockdown, we’ll be doing everything we can to maintain our interaction with Louis’ former classmates.
LFSF: Are there other projects that your students are working on this year?
Anne-Laure: This year has been unique in terms of projects. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we couldn't organize any of our annual field trips or swimming sessions, nor could we invite and work with our beloved circus teacher. So instead, we found new ways to ”travel” and jumped on 2 opportunities : the sailing race Vendee Globe and the ISS Mission Alpha with Thomas Pesquet.
Teaching in the Bay Area allows LFSF and our students to be exposed to many outstanding opportunities, even during COVID times, and I’m very grateful for that!
Our 3 classes of Gr2 students followed the Vendee Globe from day 1 until the end, learning everything about the skippers, their adventures, accidents, rescues, animal sightings, understanding their techniques, sophisticated vessels and more…! It was a great opportunity for them to learn about the oceans, the continents, the 3 capes the skippers approached, the wildlife, the climate they encountered through their journey.
In addition, we were very fortunate to host a special guest, Tanguy Delamotte, through a Zoom meeting. He visited our 3 classes virtually and answered many questions from our curious and enthusiastic students. The children were very impressed and had prepared lots of pertinent questions for him. I’m sure it will be a great lifetime memory for them!
(Zoom meeting with Tanguy Delamotte)
After exploring the ocean, we’re now travelling into space and getting ready to take off with Thomas Pesquet! This is very exciting as Thomas Pesquet is the only European astronaut selected to fly to the International Space Station (ISS) for the second time and the first French commander of the ISS.
During Alpha mission, Thomas Pesquet and 3 members of his team will take off on APRIL 22 from Cape Canaveral in Florida aboard the capsule Crew Dragon from Space X. They will stay there for 6 months. Our class has been learning a lot about space, the solar system, the ISS, NASA and ESA missions, the experiences they’re doing on the station, and the life of an astronaut. Students in Gr1 and 5 have also been following the mission.
To echo this project, students will have the chance to host another special guest through Zoom at the end of April: Jaime WAYDO, a former NASA engineer who worked on the rover Perseverance. She will answer questions about her job, Mars exploration, and her work at NASA. She will spend 20 minutes with each of the 3 classes of Gr 2 students, on Tuesday APRIL 27, from 11 am to 12 pm.
To complete the fun, all students will dress up like astronautes at the end of the school year! The date is not yet decided but once it is, we’ll make sure to share the information in the headlines :-)!
(Some of our Gr2 students)
LFSF: Thank you Anne-Laure, for your time, is there anything you would like to share with the LFSF community?
Anne-Laure: I just want to say that teaching in the Bay Area allows LFSF and our students to be exposed to many outstanding opportunities, even during COVID times, and I’m very grateful for that!
#HowWeGotThis is our series of testimonials showing how our teams and community are pioneering, reinventing themselves and imagine new ways to operate in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.