Ask any teacher during remote learning: Engaging
with students takes time, effort and ingenuity. But it can all be worth it.
Ambre Martin has among the highest student
participation rates at Constance Lane Elementary School. To stay connected with
her third graders, she laminated and mailed a Bitmoji of herself to each
student’s home. Her inspiration was “Flat Stanley,” a character in a children’s
book who becomes flat in an accident and uses the misfortune to experience
things he normally wouldn’t have.
Ms. Martin also mailed supplies to her students
so they could make 3D tulips for Mother’s Day, a craft they did together during
a virtual session.
Although remote learning has been tough for many
students, one of them has flourished – an English Language Learner who barely
communicated prior to the school closure. Now, she’s recording and posting on
her own to the school blog about how she valued her teacher, her family and her
classmates. She’s also made TikTok videos and showed her classmates how to make
a face mask out of socks.
“She explained it the whole time too. It was
pretty exciting,” Martin said.
Ms. Martin has created a space for virtual
read-aloud sessions that looks like her own house. She even included her dogs –
Yonu, an Australian Cattle Dog, and Niyaah, an Australian Shepherd. She is
driven to help her students because of her own difficult childhood, growing up not
far from the Lane school.
“I know what it’s like to be stuck at home with
someone who doesn’t want you there. I feel like a lot of my students are
battling things and it makes learning very difficult, especially when their
place of refuge is taken away. I just want to be that light in the tunnel for
them,” she said.
She’s not alone. Below is a sample of how other
elementary teachers in Rockford Public Schools are connecting during the
Jennifer Herrera, a second grade teacher at
Two-Way Language Immersion at Barbour, has three children at home. So she knows
what parents are facing, trying to stay on top of their students’ learning on
devices shared with other family members. When distance learning was new, Mrs.
Herrera noticed a lot of parents texting her through Class Dojo: “This link
didn’t work. Or, where do I go for this? Where do I go for that?” So she
created one place to go with specific instructions on Google Drive and one
shareable link on Class Dojo. “It’s all together and there are no questions,”
Dana Long, a kindergarten teacher at Spring
Creek Elementary School, was no technical whiz before remote learning. With the
help of Susan Uram, educational technology coordinator, she created a virtual
classroom with attention to detail – down to the polka dot rug students sit on.
“They call it paper dolls for adults,” she said. “I didn’t know the reaction
I’d get from the kids. They loved it.” Fifteen years at Spring Creek and 21
years as a teacher have given her a perspective she hopes will be helpful to
parents who are worried they are not doing enough. “The most important thing
you can do is read to your children. If you can only do that, you are ahead of
the game,” she said.
Students who are new to RPS 205 must first enroll in the district.
The state released formal guidelines on Tuesday about what in-person learning will look like this fall.
This message might not surprise you, but we wanted to share our disappointment with our students and graduates.
RPS 205 teachers and students will comply with all Illinois Secretary of State and Illinois Department of Public Health guidelines.
Please enroll for the 2020-21 school year before July 10.
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