Our youngest learners are accustomed to seeing their teachers and friends in the classroom five days a week, but the COVID-19 pandemic has forced teachers to rethink the way they educate their students.
Dayamara Cruz, an early head start teacher at P.S. 5 in Washington Heights, is relying on technology to provide high-quality lessons to her 3-year-olds. She records three videos per week to make sure students are getting their math and literary lessons.
Dayamara also encourages participation by requesting photos and videos of parents and students completing schoolwork. Though the transition has been a struggle at times, there have also been highlights. A Zoom call last week allowed Dayamara to see her students for the first time in weeks.
“Just seeing them that day, I could’ve stared at them through the screen the whole day,” she said.
The videos have also allowed parents to understand the work that goes into educating their children.
“Sometimes the activities look confusing [to parents],” she said. “Doing those videos has been kind of an eye opening experience. It makes me step back and really think about why we do the activities that we do at this age socially and what we do academically.”
The staff at P.S. 5 have been using their strengths to make remote learning as seamless as possible. Dayamara offers technical support to teachers who have a difficult time editing their videos, while other educators offer to do read aloud sessions for students.
“We’ve been really supportive of each other and working off of our strengths,” she said.
Establishing routines for students is especially important for our youngest learners, but this situation has taught Dayamara that being prepared for the unexpected is also crucial.
“I think sometimes as teachers and as humans we get used to routines, even the same routines we teach the kids every day, which is a good thing,” she said. “But it’s also good to teach that resilience, and always having those multiple paths of approach for any problems that we encounter.”