This new teacher can do virtually anything

Teacher with sign

“I miss them and I haven’t met them yet.”

Boone Elementary School second grade teacher Monique Marquez is new to the teaching profession, but already understands how exciting, rewarding, and challenging the job can be.

Though they started the year virtually, Marquez says building relationships and connections with her students helps bridge the distance.

“It’s lonely, but their voices and smiles through Zoom bring life into my classroom even through the screen.”

Marquez teaches live lessons for her students six times a day. Most participate then, but she records lessons and schedules time for separate Zoom calls with students who engage in the evenings. She also offers extra support for parents and grandparents with “office hours.”

For a recent English Language Arts (ELA) lesson, the class read a book together, learned how to connect with the text using an anchor chart on the easel behind Marquez, and then had an independent assignment to demonstrate their understanding using Padlet.

“It’s like Post-It notes,” Marquez said to explain their first use of the online platform. She shared her screen to show students where to find the links in Schoology.

Though her technology set up is advanced – an ELMO document camera, a tripod with a Ring light, an iPad, laptop, and an extra monitor – sometimes it’s the low-tech methods that really help them communicate.

“Show me a thumbs up if you enjoyed this book.”   

Marque seeks participation by pulling a “lucky duck” with a student’s name out of a jar and patiently holds up signs as a visual cue to remind them to mute and unmute microphones on devices at home.

“Everything is so new,” Marquez said. “I make mistakes too. That’s how we grow. We’re going to be smarter and better from this.”

She credits morning meetings as playing a major role in allowing them to all check in with each other, share, and connect on a social emotional level.

Though it can all be overwhelming, even for a veteran educator, Marquez tries to take time to breathe. She’s got a yoga mat on the floor in her classroom for when she takes a lunch break.

“As a first year teacher, try not to be too hard on yourself,” she said. “As long as we’re giving 100 percent to our students, that’s what counts. Show them love, care, and respect.”