For this new edition of #HowWeGotThis, Molly RADEMACHER, English teacher on the Ashbury Campus, explains how her professional life has been affected by the pandemic, and she too is adapting to this new normal.
LFSF : Hi Molly, could you please introduce yourself and tell us more about your role at the LFSF?
Molly: I am an Elementary English teacher on the Ashbury campus. This year, I am teaching the three Gr2/CE1 classes. I started working with the LFSF as an English substitute teacher, primarily on the Marin campus, starting out at the old Corte Madera campus and then later at the new Sausalito campus. I came on as a full-time teacher in 2015 and have taught Kindergarten, 5th grade/CM2 and now 2nd grade/CE1, all on the Ashbury campus.
LFSF : The current Covid-19 crisis has been affecting many people, and after essential workers, teachers are on the frontline of this pandemic. Can you tell us how it has affected you as a primary English teacher, and how you are adapting?
Molly: Last year, I was teaching 2nd grade, the children are young so the transition to remote teaching was a challenge for everyone involved. To support my students, I needed to create stronger links with their families. Even though most of my students are back in person, I am finding those links still important as we work through the new protocols and uncertain times. In the classroom, I am finding myself using more technology than in past years. During our time of distance learning, I discovered new tools that have been useful even now that most students are with me in the classroom.
LFSF : What do you think are the main challenges you had to face or are still facing?
Molly: One of my main challenges for distance learning is keeping the connection with my students alive. It is more important than ever for them to feel heard and valued in the uncertain times we are living in. I still have a few students who are continuing with remote learning in the concurrent classroom, I am trying to make sure these students still feel connected with the class and with me.
Another major challenge is when the technology we are using doesn’t work as planned. Both my students and I have had connection issues at times which I could see was frustrating for the students. This continues to be an occasional problem with the remote students who are joining my class via the concurrent classroom. I know this is frustrating for everyone involved but the school is working hard to address these issues.
LFSF: What are in your eyes the lessons we are learning from this crisis? Are there achievements you are proud of, or positive news you'd like to share?
Molly: I think we are learning the importance of our community and supporting each other. I see this even now live in the classroom, many of the students are supporting and helping each other. I think we have also learned the importance of taking time to be with our friends and families. In my own life, I have learned to slow down and take time out of my busy schedule to breath. I have carried this into the classroom by giving the students times in the day to work quietly on an activity of their choice. I can see they are more ready for the next lesson when they have had one of these small breaks.
LFSF : Professionally, or personally if you are so inclined to share, what are your priorities for this academic year?
Molly: My main goal this year is to help my students thrive, whether we meet in person or remotely. First and foremost, for most of us, this year is to keep everyone healthy. I have been quite impressed with how my students have been following the new protocols.
Beyond their basic health, I want them to feel that my class is a safe space where they can learn and be themselves. This year, there is so much change so I feel this is more important than ever. I give them opportunities to share their thoughts so they can feel heard and valued and I create routines that I follow each week. I try to incorporate our cultural traditions as much as possible as well. For example, Halloween this year felt quite different for the kids with no trick-or-treating. I tried to make it as normal as possible by celebrating in the classroom like we do every year. The children wore costumes and many of the activities we did throughout the week were Halloween themed. I hope this helped them have a sense of normalcy in this crazy year.
#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.