SCHOOLS | April 29, 2020
One Teacher’s Approach to Making Remote Learning a Success for Her Pre-K Students
When she started her career as a speech therapist for CPS, Ms. Rosenda Huezo says she felt a special connection working with the district’s youngest students. Her passion for supporting these students ended up motivating her to pursue a master’s degree in early childhood education and kickstarted her 18-year career as a Pre-K teacher at Nixon Elementary in Chicago’s Hermosa neighborhood. And after nearly two decades with the district, she’s currently working through some of the most challenging circumstances she has ever faced as a teacher.
“Not being able to work with my students face-to-face is definitely difficult because they’re so young,” she said. “However, my parents are becoming more active participants in their students’ learning, and I know their engagement will help my students continue to learn and progress.”
Ms. Huezo knows that each of her families is currently in a different situation. Some parents are still working. Some are not used to working with technology. Some have multiple students to support. Thus, her goals when creating her remote learning plans were to capture the essence of her classroom while keeping her lessons flexible and limiting screen time as much as possible. Each morning, she posts a series of short videos that outline her assignments across all subjects for the day and include other fun parts of the classroom routine such as her morning meeting.
“Because my students are four and five years old, it was important for me to use technology mainly as a platform for them to complete more hands-on assignments,” she said. “Creating these videos has worked extremely well because students can engage with them at their own pace and at different points throughout the day.”
All of Ms. Huezo’s assignments are designed to allow students to form creative connections between different subjects. For example, students learning about insects as part of their science lesson might do a hands-on art project requiring them to create their own insect. If students are learning about recycling, they might be challenged to turn recyclable materials into something they can play with. To make sure students are feeling engaged, Ms. Huezo has prioritized one-on-one check-ins with her parents to track her students’ progress and get feedback from her families.
“My parents have been great collaborators in all of this because they are the ones working directly with my students on a day-to-day basis,” she said. “Something I’ve learned through engaging with my families is that my students love assignments where there is some sort of ‘finished product’ that gives them a sense of pride and accomplishment, so I’ve been trying to make my lessons as interactive as possible.”
As a Spanish speaker herself, Ms. Huezo says being a resource for her Spanish-speaking families has been crucial throughout the past month. Even though she always had strong relationships with her families, finding new ways to build upon those bonds and involving her parents even more has been one of her key takeaways. Her other key takeaway?
“Patience,” she said.