By BELINDA MARINO

I am a fifth grade teacher at Mulberry Elementary School. I have been teaching for nine years and truly have a passion for what I do. I believed it was my calling since I was a young girl.  

It is hard to put into words what the past couple of months have been like. I have experienced a mixture of emotions throughout this virtual teaching process. Teaching virtually has been one of the most challenging experiences I have had to face in my career thus far. Explaining to my students that we will not be allowed to end our school year together in our classroom was an emotional challenge. However, we are trying to find ways to make the best out of this epidemic, make it the most successful, and memorable yet.

During our virtual learning experience my students and I have been meeting on Zoom at least three times a week. During this time, we go over our lessons for the week, talk about what we have been doing, play “I Spy,” academic bingo games, and most importantly, just talk. Having daily conversations was something we did often in the classroom.

We made time to talk about life and anything that would connect to what we were learning. I communicate with parents on a regular basis and let them know that they can message me whenever their child needs assistance with work. I also tell students to contact me when they just want to Zoom and chat for a few minutes. When I am teaching in my classroom I can assist students with their needs, communicate with them about any problem they may be facing, and I can answer questions.

I have learned in my career that teaching academics is crucial, but building emotional intelligence is just as important. Emotional intelligence builds self-confidence. Without self-confidence, students aren’t as successful with their academics. Not being able to provide this to my students on a daily basis is a huge struggle for me. This is because not every child has access to the internet/devices and they are not able to communicate with me as often as others. My fifth grade team and I have created presentations for students to follow each day.

We include instructional videos, a fifth grade read aloud, activities online and on paper, and most importantly funny memes to go along with the lesson.

We have tried to make this as easy as possible for students to follow with the packets they are receiving each week. My team and I recently made a home visit to every fifth-grader and we delivered goody bags. It was amazing to see so many smiling faces and to be able to show them how much we miss and love them. My team and I have also been assisting with packet deliveries and food distributions. During this time, we make TikTok videos to show our students what we are doing and try to make the best out of these challenging times.

I have always shared with my students that every day is a “perfect day for a perfect day” Therefore, we have to try and make this situation as perfect as we possibly can.

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