"Alternative Learning Plan Teacher Diaries" is a series that highlights stories of Rockwood School District teachers as they continue instruction from home while maintaining relationships and keeping students connected to school and classmates.
Emily Walshaw, fifth-grade teacher, Ridge Meadows Elementary
Number of Years Taught at Ridge Meadows: 1
Never could Emily Walshaw have guessed that this is how her first year as a classroom teacher would go. Schools are closed for the rest of the school year due to the coronavirus outbreak, and educators are finding creative ways to connect with students.
"It's been a learn-as-you-go scenario," said Walshaw. "I'm going to continue to prepare my wonderful group of fifth-graders as best I can and create better relationships with each of them."
Walshaw is using technology to teach remotely as she relies heavily on the video conferencing app Zoom and Google Classroom to give her students a sense of normalcy.
"It's been great getting to see and talk to my kids through Zoom," said Walshaw. "The first thing I told my students was 'DO NOT STRESS.' I wanted them to know that I am here to answer all of their questions and ease any of their worries."
Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning, Walshaw holds "family meetings." It's what she and her students decided they were going to call their class meetings at the beginning of the school year.
During these times, every student has an opportunity to share something that has happened to them since they last met and can comment and ask questions. Walshaw said continuing this activity in a virtual setting significantly helps students stay connected and still feel like they are a part of their classroom community.
Additionally, Walshaw's fifth-graders are completing their reading logs from home.
"This was something I did almost every day in which I asked the student what book they were reading, what page they were on and any thoughts they had about the book," she said. "It's an awesome way for them to take responsibility of their reading and keep track of all of the progress they make."
Amid these unusual circumstances, Walshaw has advice for other teachers.
"I think if a student sees their teacher being positive and excited about this new experience, then that is the way he or she will start to look at it," she said.