Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, much has changed across the globe. But one thing has remained the same: teaching and learning need to continue for our students.
Since March of 2020, Mariemont City Schools has faced a daunting challenge: how do we keep all students, staff and the community safe and healthy while also providing the educational continuity needed to advance our learners? It is certainly not an easy task but the Mariemont City Schools teachers have been up for the challenge.
In the October issue of The Experience: The official newsmagazine of Mariemont City Schools, the district features seven teachers from all four school buildings. They describe “teaching through a pandemic” in their own words and share what has changed about teaching this year, what is different in their own classrooms and what they have learned since March.
Below, read the experience of Terrace Park Elementary art teacher Mrs. Ann Hobart.
I teach art for kindergarten through sixth grade students at Terrace Park Elementary School
Q: How has teaching changed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic?
A: In the past, my classroom approach has always been to create a studio like atmosphere; a cooperative environment where we approach projects in a collaborative way as a team. Our approach helps students to recognize each other’s creativity and celebrate it. We practice kindness and offer friendly feedback. We have Studio community where students will take risks and be less afraid of trying new things. With the social distancing required as a result of COVID-19, simple things such as sharing supplies and the need to learn respect for shared property was lost. Art class is more than what just
ends up on a piece of paper – it is all these personal growth opportunities that come from being a part of classroom and working together. We are all constantly stretching and learning as teaching changes directions.
Q: How is teaching different for you specifically during the pandemic?
A: What felt disappointing initially, not being able to have students share and work together, became a challenge that I encouraged us all to problem solve. How can we let other students know that we appreciate their work? How can we show respect by following the distancing and hygiene rules? It’s actually a great opportunity to help us all learn how to pivot and find solutions that help us not just make the best of a situation but thrive. We are finding ways to use document cameras to share work and finding fun ways for the students to work together from a safe distance.
You can honestly feel the excitement and energy from all the teachers and students when you walk down the halls of the school. I think all of us are genuinely thrilled to have more structure to their days and we understand the privilege it is to be together. The kids have all been wonderful about following the protocols that the district set up, because I think they see what it means to be in school and it has motivated them and helped them appreciate it more.
One adjustment has been trying to read each other’s expressions when we can’t see a smile. As someone who has spent her life being focusing on visuals, it didn’t take long for me to realize how much we can see in a person’s eyes. Our eyes communicate every emotion and I’ve encouraged the students to take the time to recognize a smile or a frown in a friend’s eyes.
By the same token, it’s no surprise that the masks do make it more of a challenge to get to know students and for them to know us. One day early on in the year, my kindergartners had seen a video I had made for Art class. The next day when they came into another class, one of the sweet students came up to tell me, “You know, you look just like the lady in the Art video we saw yesterday!”
Q: What is one thing you have learned from teaching during a pandemic?
A: We have the most amazing and committed teachers, staff and families in our district. Everyone is doing everything we can to keep us all safe. We are all in this together.