Cayley Guess

November 12, 2020  



4th Grade Self-Contained | Roscoe Wilson Elementary | Lubbock ISD

Charles Butt Scholar Alum, Texas Tech University

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What does your teaching life look like right now, and how are you handling it?

Right now, my teaching life looks like me figuring out the balance between preparing for my students and creating engaging lessons and activities for them but also making sure that I am taking time to care for myself as well. In the past, I’ve had this mindset that I could do everything on my own, and I didn’t need to ask others for help. This first year of teaching has shown me that in no way am I able to be the best teacher I can be for my students without help from others. I have learned how to ask teammates, colleagues, and the district coaches at central office for help. They have been wonderful at providing me with support, checking in on me, and encouraging me as I work towards becoming a better teacher for my students.

What should Texans know about what is happening currently in public schools?

Texas teachers are doing the very best they can to make sure that our students feel connected, cared for, and learn. Teaching in itself is a big job, but throw in teaching during the middle of a pandemic when life looks much different than it did before. Students are trying to define their new normal, and teachers are trying their best to provide stable environments in which students feel safe and valued above all.

Can you share one recent moment or memory that encapsulates your experience or communicates what is most meaningful about your job right now?

In my district, I have been teaching my students face-to-face since the beginning of school in August. When my students are exposed and have to quarantine, then they join us online, and I teach them live, along with the rest of my class that is in person. I remember one day I had a student who came up to me and told me that they were going to be picked up early that day. I had told her that I would be able to catch her back up when she returned to class the next day. Before she left, she said that she didn’t want to miss any class and asked if she could log online and complete the rest of our day with us. She ended up logging online after being picked up and was fully present and participated in the rest of the day. It warmed my heart that even though she was getting picked up, she still wanted to participate and finish out our day with us.

What is one way you have recently tried to address the unique needs of learners?

As I began to evaluate how I could create opportunities for my students to feel more connected during this time, I found a resource called 60-second relate breaks and 2-minute connections that the Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) department in my district provided resources for. After sitting in a professional development session to learn more about these two relational practices, I decided to implement them into my classroom. I take time throughout the day when we are transitioning between activities to ask my students a question. These questions are fun and have nothing to do with the content we are learning. This gives the students a chance to recompose themselves and give a quick brain break. Students share their responses with one another, and they are able to begin forming connections with one another. At the end of the day, before going home, we all stand in a socially distanced circle, and my students are able to share their answer to the question with the whole class. About the second week that we were doing this, I had a few students come up to me and tell me that those little breaks were their favorite parts of the day. It warmed my heart thinking about how something so simple that doesn’t take much time can have such an impact on my students.

Given the good, bad, and ugly of 2020-21, what do you love about teaching right now?

I love having the ability to create connections and develop relationships with my students. I am thankful for my school district and the different precautions that they are taking so that we can be participating in school face to face as well as virtually. I know that one of the things I was craving during quarantine in March was connections with others. I can’t even imagine how my students must have felt to go so long without those connections and relationships that are made at school. I love being able to help my students create those connections and build those relationships again now that we are back in school.

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