First-year teacher shares her distance learning experience

By Arielle Freleaux

My first year teaching hasn’t been exactly as I had always pictured it. I started teaching 6th and 7th grade English at Shorecliffs Middle School in October, a quarter of the way into the school year. Stepping into an already established classroom had its challenges, but I had the support of a great team at Shorecliffs that helped make that transition as smooth as possible.

Just when I was feeling like I had successfully transformed the classroom into my own, I was thrown another curveball: distance learning. When I first heard we were moving to distance learning I had mixed emotions. I was confused, nervous, sad, and a little excited.  I joined this profession to be in the classroom with the students daily, seeing and helping them face to face. How was I supposed to read novels and have in-depth conversations with middle school students without being in the classroom?

I’m currently working toward getting my master’s degree online through my alma mater, San Diego State University.  I realized I could utilize all of the techniques my professors used in my program with my own students to enhance their online learning experience. I took my knowledge of technology in the classroom and offered help to my colleagues.  I’ve learned so much from these veteran teachers this year it was fun to be the one helping them out for a change!

Distance learning has presented exciting experiences exploring new technologies with my students.  I’m also amazed at how swiftly students, parents, teachers, and administration have all risen to this challenge.  This wouldn’t be possible without the support of everyone working together. My principal, Dr. Davis, has worked tirelessly to support our staff, students, and families here at Shorecliffs.  I am especially proud of my students who have been exceptionally mature and flexible in adapting to the circumstances during this unprecedented time in their education.

Though I’ve grown to accept distance learning for the remainder of the school year, I genuinely miss being in the classroom every day.  My mentor teacher, Becky Grondahl, had the brilliant idea of holding live read-aloud sessions with our students via Google Meets where we video chat with our students to read and discuss the assigned novels. It’s wonderful to see my students’ faces and pretend we are in the classroom again, even for just an hour a day. My co-teacher, Jacki Lansford, has also helped tremendously with this transition and has worked to modify our online curriculum to be accessible to all students.

I am excited to see how these unparalleled times will change our future in education. I anticipate seeing the use of technology in our everyday teaching greatly increase once students return to campus.  The use of technology is the future of education, and this experience has helped prepare our students for the future of technology in our world.

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