Rachael Jandziszak
Preschool Teacher

This month of May is teacher appreciation month and in honor of that, we’ve asked an Indianapolis Public Schools teacher some questions about her experiences teaching during a pandemic. For insights from an amazing teacher, read the blog below. And if you want to show your children’s teacher some love, sign this card.

How are you serving students during a time when school buildings are closed and students are learning at home?

I am able to do at-home learning by relying mostly on technology. Whether it’s phone calls home, reaching families with new activities on my Remind app, weekly meetings on Zoom, or creating preschool-focused Youtube content, I’m always looking for new and innovative ways to engage my families! My favorite activity has been recording read-alouds for my little ones.

What has been the biggest challenge of educating your class when children are learning at home?

The biggest challenge of educating my class with my little ones at home has been the technology aspect. While 4 and 5-year-olds are extremely tech-savvy these days, they aren’t quite savvy enough to log into Zoom for my weekly meetings. Home learning asks a lot of the parents and I appreciate all they are doing to keep their preschoolers involved in this new learning process. Many families do not have computers for their students to work on. The families that do have the proper technology may be sharing it with several children at home.

What is the best advice you have for parents juggling home learning and other responsibilities such as work?

First, take a breath; you can do this! My best advice for home learning with pre-K students would be to focus on active learning opportunities rather than sitting down at the table with worksheets. Have a drawing challenge. Create a scavenger hunt. Meditate or do some yoga. There are little lessons to be learned in everyday activities. The most important thing is that you are talking with your little one to support their ever-developing vocabulary and you are available to answer the questions from their curious, growing brains. Also, read out loud to your child each day. Reading together is an important bonding time for parent and child. It helps spark imagination as well as increases communication skills and a love for knowledge. If you don’t have books at home, explore YouTube!

What advice would you give to parents who feel overwhelmed right now?

To parents who are feeling overwhelmed right now, remember you are not alone! Parents are trying to juggle their jobs and newly acquired role as homeschool teachers. Teachers understand this and aren’t expecting perfection. Establish routines, expectations and boundaries for this new learning environment! Predictable schedules are truly so helpful for young learners and this will help your days at home feel more manageable. While this definitely is a stressful time, it is also an opportunity to spend extra time at home with your little ones and learn more about them. This may be an overwhelming time, but it is also such a unique situation that allows families to talk with their children and learn their academic strengths and weaknesses. Try to look at the positive opportunities in these darker times. Celebrate the little victories in each day. Parents, I am so proud of you for stepping up to this challenge. You’ve got this!

How are teachers coming together to support one another during this uncertain time?

Teachers are certainly coming together to support each other right now. Each day I am blown away with the new and creative ideas I’m seeing from rockstar teachers. Locally, I feel extremely supported by my Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) community, especially within my home school of Francis Bellamy School 102 (IPS 102). I am constantly working with my fellow preschool teachers to create the best learning opportunities for our kids. Additionally, I have found such amazing support in online communities. I am in several teacher Facebook groups and it is comforting to hear from so many people in the same situation. I really feel like the teaching community is stronger than ever.

What do you miss most and what are you most looking forward to when school buildings reopen?

What I miss the most is the individual quirks of each student. Although I’m certainly excited to reopen in the fall, it breaks my heart to know I’ll never be in my classroom with my 2019-2020 class again. I miss the endless questions, the drama, the energy, accidentally being called “Mom,” the random bursts of laughter and being such an important factor in the lives of so many tiny humans. I really do develop a friendship with my students throughout the year and I miss each student and their uniqueness. When the school building reopens, I look forward to the opportunity to create a “family” with a new group of students and I hope my 2019-2020 class finds a new “family” in kindergarten.

 

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