Ready to Teach from Wherever We Are
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My interview with Hollind Kevo is below. Hollind is an assistant teacher for 1st-, 2nd-, and 3rd-grade students at a Montessori school in the Seattle area.
benches in covered walkway
What is your position or title?
I'm an assistant teacher.
How many students do you teach?
This year, we have 16 students; 14 are currently attending in person, and two are learning remotely.
Do you currently teach from home or school?
I currently teach at school. That said, we did create a remote-learning system, so I'm able to teach from home if need be. During the smoky days in September, we all stayed home and connected via Zoom. We're set up to teach wherever and whenever it's needed.
What kind of set-up do you have at home? At school?
table in covered walkway
My set-up at home is minimal. I use my phone and tablet. I often bring materials from the classroom home to give lessons over Zoom. At school, we prepared by measuring out the classroom and setting up tables and work areas 6' apart. We're fortunate to have an outdoor space that extends the classroom work area. Since our class size is small, we can comfortably maintain the 6' rule. Because it is a Montessori set-up, students still share tables, albeit one at a time, and are expected to sanitize the table and chair after completing their work. As for moving around the classroom, we're using green triangles on the floor that are spaced 6'; they help students know how far they have to distance. We're fortunate to be a Montessori school because it's set up for independent learning and maintaining order and cleanliness. Physical separation hasn't been as hard for us to manage. For example, we have separate rooms with separate exterior entrances for younger and older students. We also have fewer students sharing restrooms. When students do use communal space, they know they need to clean after themselves. Another important advantage is that we teach outside a lot. The students enjoy working outside under our covered breezeway and a large tent.
At school, what has been done to protect you and students from COVID-19?
As stated above, we've rearranged furniture for appropriate distancing and have added markers on the floor to help students remember to space themselves. We also require students and teachers to wear masks all day, and everyone is asked to wash their hands frequently. We also gave students their own box of supplies to care for — usually in Montessori schools, everything is shared, so this is different for us. I have to say, the rules we've set have worked, but more importantly, the students are amazing. They make sure they follow health guidelines; they're very thoughtful of one another. They do a great job with not just distancing, but with hand washing and keeping their supplies and shared space sanitized. The students have adapted to the changes very well.
tables in tented space
How are your students feeling about the pandemic and quarantining?
Well, of course, they don't like it, but they are taking it in stride because they can be together. As long as they can be together, in person, even with masks and 6' apart, they're happy. Also, for students and teachers, being able to work outside has really been a blessing.
What are the future goals of your school? What are your own goals related to remote learning?
We're going to keep up the physical distancing and mask-wearing for as long as needed. Our goal is to stay on-site for as long as it's safe to do so. Each family and staff member has made a community commitment to follow all COVID-19 safety protocols at school and home. I also recognize that for most of our students, school is the only social interaction they have with their peers, and it's so important for their social and emotional growth to be together in person.
Whenever necessary, we'll transition to distance learning. We're ready to teach and learn from wherever we are. Remote learning has its advantages, like reaching students who can't come in or those in different states.