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South Salt Lake Journal

Remote kindergarten has its challenges say South Salt Lake teachers

May 07, 2020 12:16PM ● By Bill Hardesty

An empty playground at Lincoln Elementary shows how kindergarten has recently changed. (Bill Hardesty/City Journals)

By Bill Hardesty | [email protected]

In an article published in the City Journals last September, Rachael Williams, a 9-year kindergarten teacher from Woodrow Wilson Elementary, spoke about how she prepared for the coming year.

"I sit in my classroom alone and visualize the upcoming good year," Williams said.

She never visualized this type of school year.

With schools temporarily closed because of COVID-19 restrictions, kindergarten teachers are looking at new ways to teach and reach their students.

“We are doing a combination of paper packets and online learning. With the paper packets we gather materials that parents can use to teach their student the new material for the end of the year. Meaning they do not get any explicit instructions from the teacher. Online teaching, they do get explicit instruction. We are uploading videos, narrated PowerPoint presentations and videos of us teaching various content plus activities for them to do,” Williams said.

Williams explained that she posts videos of herself using the same humor and silly language she used in the classroom to stay connected. She often calls and texts the family but many times she doesn’t speak to the student.

One concern for many teachers is online availability. Woodrow Wilson provided one Chromebook for each family that is used by every student in the family.

“Staying connected is difficult, and I miss my kids so much,” Jennie Christensen, a second-year kindergarten teacher at another school, said. “I try to do a Zoom meeting each day, and I have had a couple of students who have had birthdays during this time. We have tried to celebrate on Zoom, but it doesn't always work because not all students can get on, so I have sent a birthday card to them. When we send home our packets, we try to put a little gift in the packet. Other than that, there isn't a lot of other communication with students.”

Christensen voiced her biggest concern. “I worry that they are not getting any help at all. Kindergarteners need a lot of repetition to learn things and those that need it the most I am afraid are not getting it. I worry some of them are going to slip back. Instead of two and a half months of summer slide I am afraid it is going to be more like a four-month summer slide.”

But then Christensen added, “But teachers are awesome, and we will work very hard next year to get them back.”

Williams voiced a similar concern. “This is a difficult time for all of us. As teachers, we understand and appreciate the amount of work that is now on parents' shoulders who are working and trying to make ends meet. We understand if you cannot get through the work and understand if you might not know how to teach it. We are here to help so reach out to us. We also love and miss your student so when we check in, we really care.” 


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