Second only to concern and care for their students, adjusting to new ways of being a teacher in a hurry has been foremost on the minds of hundreds of educators in Spring Branch ISD. This past week as students and families “returned” from Spring Break equipped with eLearning resources in the district’s Digital Backpack, teachers across the district ramped up their electronic teaching skills to connect and support at-home student learning.
First-year teacher, Brooke Tolar, teaches second grade at Memorial Drive Elementary. She and other grade level team members collaborated electronically last week, practicing with group meetings on Zoom so that on Friday, they all hosted online gatherings with their students the highly popular video messaging tool.
“I started out by asking each student to share something they did on Spring Break,” said Tolar. Each student had an opportunity to speak, while others were kept on mute to reduce competing background sounds.
“At the end, I gave them two minutes of unmuted conversation time,” she said. “It was chaos, but that’s okay. They were happy to see each other.”
The Memorial Drive second-grade teachers are also learning new strategies for engaging their students on the itslearning platform that has previously been used at the elementary level to share lessons and resources among team members. Tolar envisions being able to share read-aloud recordings with her students via the eLearning program, as well as posting thought-provoking questions for them to respond to on a discussion board.
“Right now we are doing a lot of brainstorming and testing to see what works for our students,” said Tolar.
The team members are currently learning how to make instructional videos with the Camtasia program by using online tutorials posted in itslearning for SBISD teachers. They plan to make videos to share with each other’s students to reduce any duplicate efforts.
Adjusting personal expectations is also a lesson Ms. Tolar is learning. "I was already pretty flexible, but this experience has already taught me to be more flexible and not stress the small things! That is a lesson that will stick with me as an educator."
Although the school year has taken a turn into unchartered territories, this first-year educator feels very fortunate to be teaching in SBISD.
“I am so glad I work in Spring Branch,” said Tolar. “They have made it easy for us to function. The biggest help has been how supportive Spring Branch ISD is. The fact that our [Academics Dept.] team has spent the past weeks putting together a Digital Backpack that reaches all of our students in the district is amazing. Also, the parents of my students have been so supportive and caring.”
Thank you, Ms. Tolar, for your Limitless Curiosity as you demonstrate to your students and families that there is always something new to learn.
Submitted by Becky Wuerth, SBISD Communications