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Teachers make advancement in using technology tools

Gissel McDonald

Gissel McDonald, Instructional Coach & AP Chemistry teacher, Spring Hill High School

Q. As an educator, how has COVID-19 impacted you and the way you perform your job? 
A. The new protocols that this pandemic has brought upon us have drastically changed how I perform my job. The principles of how I teach are the same but the methods I use to try to put those principles in action have to be reinvented. Some simple examples include what used to be a hands-on activity in class might now have to be a demonstration, face-to-face student group work now must be digital collaboration, and so much more. This has added an enormous amount of extra work for all teachers.

Q. What has been the hardest challenge you have faced or obstacle you have overcome?
A. There is so much work that is required to completely change how you have been teaching over the past five, 10, 20 years---the lack of time is for sure an obstacle to overcome. I appreciate the extra time we have this year in our school calendar to prepare for the year, but the time that will be needed daily to lesson plan will be a challenge as the year proceeds.

While the lack of time is, for sure, an important struggle to overcome. The most difficult challenge is not having the 1 on 1 connection with students that comes with just simply being in the same room with each other.  It is harder to get to know students over a computer screen. It is harder to laugh with them.  It is harder to identify if they are having a hard day or just stressed. It is harder to help students when they need help understanding content.  I know these students miss seeing each other and we want to make it better for them but feel sort of helpless.

Q. From your perspective, what is something positive that has resulted from this pandemic so far?
A. I think the advancements that many teachers have made utilizing technology tools to help teach their class has for sure been one of the positives of this pandemic. I have learned so much and really stretched myself professionally. This pandemic has forced me to try new things that I might not have been willing to try in years prior.  

Q. From the work you have done over the past few months, of what are you the proudest?
A.
I am most proud of how much I have learned about different technology tools that can be used in the classroom. I have learned so much about how to properly teach in a remote setting. I am also proud of how teachers have come together to help one another get through this unprecedented time! We are all pulling in the same direction.  

Q. What is something you value more now compared to pre-pandemic?
A. I for sure value how much communication takes place between two people when our whole faces can be seen.  I have taken for granted what a simple smile can communicate now that our smiles our covered with masks. I have for sure missed giving people hugs or high fives. So much encouragement and emotional support that takes place between two people is not shared through words. 

Q. What didn’t we ask you that you would like to share?
A. Our teachers are working so hard to help make this a positive year for our students. We care deeply about their educational experience and their emotional status. While there are many unknowns, we are committed to making this the best year possible for them.