From the last BOE meeting it is my understanding that some members of the board believe that your K-5 teachers are currently taking a break from teaching. This could not be FURTHER from the truth. We are working harder and faster than ever before. Let me give you a peek into a typical kindergarten teacher’s life since this has happened.
· On March 14th it was announced that school would be closed for the rest of March.
· On March 15th I came up with a plan for my students. I needed to find a platform that would not be overwhelming to the parents or the students.
· On March 15&16 I started calling every parent, found out what their access to technology was, and began explaining to them how to use Zoom as I would begin teaching using that platform on March 18th. Thereby making sure my students only lost 2 days of instruction.
· On March 17th I was allowed into my school for 4 hours to come up with work for 19 kindergarten students to do for the initial 2-week quarantine period. It took me all 4 hours to find enough relevant work that could be done at home with little to no support. I then HAND DELIVERED those packets, along with the journals, crayons, pencils and other supplies I purchased out of pocket to EACH of my 19 students. This took me almost 6 hours to complete. While at the houses, I set up their technology devices for access to both Zoom and our learning apps. For some families, this was on a phone while for a few it was on tablets or computers.
· On March 18th I began teaching kindergarten via Zoom TWICE a day. I teach ELA for an hour, give the kids a break for lunch and stretching, and then teach another hour for math. In between teaching, I have a 2-hour open office hours block for parents who need help. Sometimes this is with the technology, sometimes with the work, and sometimes it is just providing emotional support to struggling parents. I also have taught 19 fellow teachers how to teach via zoom and have helped 12 teachers design a website for parents to access resources from a central location. Feel free to check out mine, the link is below my signature.
· When the extension came out to take us through April, I spent between 12-15 hours designing a custom packet for my students that aligns with where we are academically. While I appreciate the work going into RCSD learns, it is a one-size fits all source and not what my students need. I then spent another $150 on printing, laminating, and resources for my families. I again HAND DELIVERED this packet to every student dropping it off on the porch and speaking to each family through doors/windows. They NEEDED that contact and it was worth the additional 7 hours it took me to complete the task.
· Since the kindergarten kids aren’t eligible to receive any kind of learning device, I have worked with my husband who is in IT in Brockport Central Schools, to utilize every spare laptop we can get our hands on (we had 3 old ones and have since received donations of 3 others) to BUILD a device for my students who didn’t have one. I again hand delivered all of those to ensure that 100% of my students would have access to devices. I’m now working on securing devices for other students in my school.
· I even went and bought a birthday present for one of my boys whose family is on lockdown just to make sure he received something for his birthday. I am currently logging 2.5-3 hours of live teaching every day, 2 hours of open office for parents, I speak to each family several times a week and many of those are daily, and 4-6 hours of teacher-teacher support so they can get up and running with this too.
Furthermore, I have welcomed students from other RCSD schools into my virtual classroom while their teacher gets up to speed. To say we aren’t working isn’t laughable, it’s an insult. And, I’m doing all of this while finishing my doctorate at the University of Rochester for a May graduation date. As you think about where the cuts need to come from, remember that WE are the soldiers on the frontlines fighting this war. You cannot win without us. The TEACHERS are the ones out here doing the work. And yes, that includes kindergarten. Our students are no less valuable and deserve nothing less than our best. Now I challenge each of you to step up, have our backs, and treat us like the professionals we are. We deserve your best too.
P. Marie Rice
Kindergarten Teacher andUniversity of RochesterMaster Teaching Fellow
Pinnacle School #35