Connections: Linking Talented Educators
Connections: Linking Talented Educators

COVID-19 Changed the Way We Teach

March 12, 2021

Covid Sarah Szymanski Tomic students 1000w2

When the COVID-19 pandemic closed schools across the country in 2020, educators were forced to change the way they taught. Despite the frustration and steep learning curve, some pandemic teaching strategies have delivered unexpected benefits. Click to see which pandemic strategies Milken Educators are planning to continue even after COVID-19 is behind us.

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Lauren Sepulveda (CT '19)
Social studies, Clinton Avenue School | New Haven, CT


There are so many applications, extensions, and experiences I have enjoyed taking advantage of during this time. Here are a few:

First, there are fun daily SEL check-ins using GIFs, Peardeck, and draggables. Sometimes a student will come in looking sad or exhausted, but then will see the funny GIFs and begin laughing as they choose how they are feeling. It allows them to recalibrate before class.

The Immersive Reader extension for the Chrome web browser gives my students the option to have any website read to them, in any language, and they can click on all the words for definitions, which most times are accompanied by pictures. Immersive Reader can translate selected words or the whole page into almost any language, which has truly helped my ELL students. I can also switch up the difficulty of the text to better support the reader.

I used to ask kids who were finished early to read or begin other work. Now, I can offer those students a section in my Google classroom for fun interactive activities they can do while they wait. I am a middle school social studies teacher, so the section includes Radio Garden, Free Rice, City Guesser, GeoGuessr, Google Earth, MackinVIA, our class digital subscription to Junior Scholastic magazine, Google Arts and Culture, iCivics, Wonderopolis, and virtual field trips.

And I have loved being able to think outside the box for guest speakers. Having the technology and access to Google Meet and Zoom means I have so many more options for bringing guests into our classroom.

I cannot wait to continue to use these tools, mixed in with all the elements that made traditional school so special, when we can all be together safely.

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Leslie Sullivan (SC '19)
Social studies and history, Palmetto Scholars Academy | North Charleston, SC


I've been putting out a weekly agenda that I go over briefly every Monday. The kids have said they like being able to update their calendars from that. I also love the Schoology Google assignments for essays because I can easily see their progress and give live feedback as they write.

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Sarah Tomic (CO '18)
Instruction coach, Pikes Peak Elementary | Colorado Springs, CO


What am I going to keep from our pandemic year? Using Nearpod to engage students and check for understanding. It’s a game changer!

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Heidi Albin (KS '17)
Credit recovery, Mountain View High School | Loveland, CO


I will definitely keep taking my students outside once per class period for a "mask break." The fresh air is great for focus!

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Jayda Pugliese (PA '16)
Principal, St. Mary Interparochial School | Philadelphia, PA


We'll definitely keep doing virtual workshops for students and parents. These have been so well attended compared to our previous in-person workshops since we shifted them to virtual.

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Sarah Franko (OH '13)
Fifth grade science, North Royalton Middle School | North Royalton, OH


I'm going to keep adding sound to my hyper-slides!

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Jane Fung (CA '02)
Early transitional kindergarten, Belvedere Elementary School | Los Angeles, CA


Zoom! I can use Zoom to hold conferences "face to face" with parents in the evening when they get out of work. Zoom lets me show and demonstrate strategies to kids and families when they are not able to come to school. And I'm definitely keeping Google Slide decks!

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Toni Stith (ND '08)
Senior manager for STEM professional learning, Carnegie Science Center | Pittsburgh, PA


I plan to continue offering my STEM education workshops virtually. I will host them in-person when that's requested, but I have been able to reach a whole new audience by facilitating them remotely.

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