UNI education grads keep students engaged amid pandemic
COVID-19 presented educators around the world with unprecedented challenges. UNI graduates navigated the challenges with creativity, adaptability and positive attitudes. Below are some reflections from a few recent graduates on their experience teaching virtually and maintaining the quality you would expect from a UNI-educated teacher.
Anjali Patel, 2019, Social Studies Teacher at Union High School, LaPorte City
“To say my first year of teaching was a rollercoaster would be an understatement. Teaching is an unpredictable job, as you never know what each day will bring. The shift to distance learning in March was not an easy one, and it brought a whole new set of challenges. From getting internet access to households, providing meals for students, and coming up with creative ways to celebrate our seniors, it reminded me that schools do so much more for the community than solely providing an education. UNI provided me with a solid foundation to give me the confidence going into this profession. My level 1 field experience was actually at Union, so everything came full circle for me! As a social studies teacher, the diverse variety of courses UNI offered helped me to teach the next generation of young adults in the 21st century.”
Hunter Flesch, 2018, 7th Grade Science Teacher at Saydel Community School District, Des Moines
“Transitioning to virtual learning was challenging, but it brought about a lot of self-discovery and opportunity to try new teaching strategies. It also opened my eyes to all kinds of virtual learning tools I wasn't aware of prior to COVID-19. I am worried foremost about my student's health and safety. Regardless of the school model, health has to be taken into consideration as the absolute priority, so no matter if we are virtual, in person, or hybrid I just hope schools focus on the health aspect first. Then my next priority is figuring out how I can be the most effective teacher and provide the best possible learning environment for students, especially through a virtual environment with that being a likely route this fFall. Although there is no class that prepares you to teach during a pandemic, UNI helped me understand the importance of adaptability. I learned a lot about embracing change, understanding how to roll with the punches as an educator, and always focusing on the fact that students need your best from my time at UNI, which has allowed me to maintain a positive mindset through uncharted territory.
Taylor Holman, 2018, Third Grade Teacher Cardinal Elementary School, Eldon
“As a student at UNI, I never took a class on how to teach virtually--as I’m sure no one ever thought education would look this way. However, I still felt prepared to take on the task because my experiences at UNI taught me to be resilient, open minded, and to put students first no matter the circumstances. Our class also met weekly on Zoom for about 30 minutes to check in, share good news, celebrate birthdays, and play games together. It was my favorite part of the week because I loved seeing their faces light up when they saw a friend, shared their pet with me, or highlighted all of their extra family time.
After teaching online this spring, I think we are stronger, more confident, and have acquired more resources that make us better teachers and we will be ready for whatever is next. As many Iowa teachers are hoping school resumes as normal, we will be there to care for students no matter what as that’s what we do best! I am anxiously awaiting the day that I can hug my students again!”
Cutlines for photos for Taylor--Taylor made time each week to read with her students.
Taylor taught her students how to make homemade stress balls to help cope with the uncertain times.