Teaching Through the Pandemic – Jenna’s Story

We’re letting teachers tell their stories about teaching through the pandemic. With every post, we are reminded of the great love and concern that each teacher displays for their students. These beautiful testimonies of struggle and passion for learning weave a marvelous tapestry for our nation’s children. 

I teach special education to elementary students. Teaching through the pandemic was one of the greatest obstacles I have yet to overcome in education. I didn’t have a lot of prep time or warning before I found myself at home teaching while I managed two young children of my own.   My youngest child got a lot of snacks fed to him by my older daughter to keep him “quiet” during my zoom sessions. Our snack bill was a little higher during those days of lockdown. 🙂

close up of salty snacks on a plate surrounded by oreos

For my students, I use a reading intervention called Read Naturally Live.  I would email parents each week to set up a zoom session with their child. During the sessions, I would log onto Read Naturally Live and listen and guide the students through their reading. The program helps to build fluency with short nonfiction passages. The program works on comprehension and vocabulary.

It was not the most ideal situation because the students usually can work independently by logging on themselves and retelling the story by typing themselves. But through the setup we had on zoom, the students had to tell me what to type, which was not as independent as the program is set up to be.  The independence I needed them to have was not available during lockdown and it hampered the experience.

This one session a week was on top of what the students were doing for their general education classes. It felt like I was spinning my wheels and my students were not benefitting.

shards of broken pencil on a blue background

Luckily I only had to teach remotely from March to May 2020.  Our school has been in person ever since, with the exception of some students and staff having to quarantine at home at various times since 2020. This still presents challenges, because with students missing for extended periods, they get behind on lessons and it is not always the easiest trying to find time to catch them up when they return to school. The absences due to quarantine were necessary, but they caused a lot of upheaval and confusion that was often difficult to come back from when a student missed school.

There are some students whom I feel are lacking a few academic and social skills they missed during lockdown.  We are working as a staff to overcome those gaps and to help our students to the best of our abilities. There are times when I feel overwhelmed and more tired. I know it is best to push through because my students need me to be there for them. 

Jenna Fehringer bio

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