"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.
Molly Clince, fifth-grade teacher, Westridge Elementary
Number of Years Taught at Westridge: 14
When Molly Clince received word that her school district was shifting to the online Alternative Learning Plan, she immediately reached out to the families of her students through email.
"I let them know that I missed them and that even though things were changing rapidly in terms of a school and district plan, I would keep them as aware of the plan as much as possible," said Clince.
On March 20, Clince scheduled a meeting with her students through the video conferencing app Zoom.
"I had 12 students, some siblings and a few parents join the meeting to 'hang out,' talk about what they had been up to over spring break, ask questions about what was going on with our class and just build community," said Clince. "It was a really powerful connection point for those who got online that day."
Clince's focus is twofold right now – keeping the connection between her and her students and hoping her learners are finding joy with their families.
"I want the kids to feel connected to our class and myself because for some we are the consistency, the anchor they need to make sense out of this strange set of events," she said. "My kids will be heading to middle school after this long hiatus, and I want them to stay connected to each other so they have those bonds moving into summer and next year."
Throughout this process, Clince is implementing "normal" routines as much as possible.
"Routines are so important for these kids right now," said Clince. "Things that I have kept in place are: the daily read-aloud, reading responses, math lessons and class meetings three times each week. I begin our meetings the same way every day – 'Good morning! Happy whatever day it is!' just like I would do as if we were at school."
Simultaneously, the veteran teacher is finding innovative ways to engage students.
"I decided to make some science videos about plant growth and measuring matter," said Clince. "I dug a scale and measuring cups out of my kitchen, used empty paper cups as root viewers and planted seeds from my garage. I am hoping for the best! I approach each day as an opportunity to learn right along with my students. In the past week, I have figured out how to do some cool stuff and use apps I didn't know existed. I am a better teacher today than I was yesterday, and I will be even better tomorrow."