Genelle Faulkner is an educator at the Helen Y. Davis Academy in Boston. Recently she sat down with E4E-Boston Managing Director of Outreach Lisa Lazare to discuss her experience as a distance educator and how her students have responded thus far.
A transcript of the conversation’s highlights can be found below:
Lisa Lazare: How have things been going for you as a distance educator?
- Genelle Faulkner: It’s been an interesting journey, to say the least. I do appreciate that my school was able to roll out some good guidelines for remote learning, so we were able to set up a schedule and know what was expected of us. We already had a 1:1 laptop program, so we were able to hand them out to students pretty well. But even with those pluses, it’s been really hard. I tried to set up meetings with my kids but no one showed up, or only one or two students did. I think a lot of times middle school students don’t know what questions? students to ask with assignments too, so work was lower than normal. I have transitioned now to teaching lessons on Zoom and it’s getting better.
LL: What impact is this having academically?
- GF: I’m a science teacher and I have really been trying to think about what they are missing curriculum-wise. At first, my heart sank when I was told I couldn’t do anything new because I have students that are ready for more. But I came up with focusing on the theme of energy, which was something my students had trouble with before. I had them think about different concepts in energy and used several different online resources to teach it, and was able to reach a variety of different students at different levels.
LL: How are your students doing emotionally?
- GF: The ones I’ve been able to check in with are generally ok; what they say the most is that they miss interacting with people and with their friends. They miss being able to connect with other students. I had one student say to me, “Is it weird that I miss school?” I think a lot of them are just missing out on these connections.
LL: What do you want decision-makers to know to get our students ready to learn when they return to school, and ensure any learning loss is recovered?
- GF: I think this is a great juncture to re-evaluate what we’ve been doing. A lot of times we don’t get this pause, this reset button. So, we can look at it as, “we need to catch them up as quickly as possible!” or we can really take a look at the standards that we have been pushing, and come up with the standards that are the most important and develop our curriculum around that. I would like to see a focus on major themes, especially in science to make sure that there is a deeper understanding.
LL: What is one source of joy or hope you have experienced recently?
- GF: I think one source of joy was this past weekend. I went hiking and it was a lot of fun; the weather was beautiful. I also did some yoga on my porch which was great. I just moved into this new place and I feel like I’ve been here for years because I’ve been here 24/7! But it was great to be able to do things on my porch, and just exciting to have that day.