Q1: Tell us a little bit about your educational background. When did you decide to pursue education as a career and where did you study?
I graduated with a Bachelor of Science from Brooklyn College via CUNY in New York City. Before becoming an educator, I worked in Public Health where I worked to decrease health disparities in communities of color in tobacco control as well as HIV/AIDS case management. While I loved working in public health- especially in HIV/AIDS case management, I noticed that many of the patients who I worked with never graduated from high school. Due to this observation, I wondered if I would make a better impact if I became a teacher where I would be able to reach the lives of individuals earlier in life and help facilitate better health and educational outcomes. So, in 2016, I joined Teach For America and moved from Bronx, NY to Memphis, TN.
Q2: What is something that worked well for your students in the virtual 4th quarter of this past school year?
What worked well during the virtual 4th quarter of this past school year was the opportunity to work with other teachers as a grade band in planning and implementing virtual lessons. By working as a team, we were able to identify the standards that were most important to focus on, and to discuss how to chunk the lessons to ensure rigor and engagement. As a team we shared the responsibility of creating videos and assignments. This led to an increase of camaraderie and a decrease in feeling overwhelmed.
Q3: What accommodations are being made at Compass to ensure that virtual learning is accessible?
One of the most critical accommodations being made at Compass is the addition of family orientation. It is one thing to provide a family with a laptop, materials, and a hotspot; but if they don’t know how to utilize the materials and navigate the applications used for instruction, children are not going to learn, and parents are going to feel frustrated and disappointed.
Recently, Compass facilitated small group, socially distant family orientations where the administration, staff, and teachers trained students and their parents how to use the laptops as well as applications such as Zoom, Google Classroom, Clever, and other essential apps. By the end of the sessions, families were familiar enough with the technology to use it with confidence.
Q4: Is there any advice you would give to educators who might be pessimistic or anxious about virtual teaching?
Honor everything that you are feeling—it is O.K. As you find yourself feeling pessimistic or anxious, remember that you are enough.
All the skills and passion that you already have will work to your benefit in teaching virtually. All we need to do as educators is be willing to dive in and learn as much as we can about technology in order to provide the best educational experience for our students.
Our ‘babies’ are counting on us. They love us and believe in us. Let’s show them how to be amazing in times of adversity. Let’s show them that greatness is created from the determination to never give up!