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Hello Rochester: Teaching With Haylee

Haylee has a Bachelor's Degree in Childhood Inclusive Education and will obtain a Master's Degree in Literacy B-12 in May 2021. She is a second grade teacher in Rochester and previously held long term substitution positions as a fourth and third grade teacher. Although she accepted her current employment position during COVID-19, she couldn't be happier to have her own classroom!


1. What is different about teaching in 2020-2021, compared to previous years?

This is my first year with my own classroom, so I don’t have much to compare it to. Although, the kids have adjusted so well and you wouldn’t even think there is a pandemic! I am so blessed that my district is five days a week in person - this gives us the opportunity to really get our kiddos back on track!

2. What have been your biggest challenges?

My biggest challenges this year would have to be worrying about all of the unknowns and just being as careful as I can be so that the kids are safe. My number one priority has been to make sure my students are safe, my room is clean and the kids are on track with their learning. I also incorporate a lot of social/emotional learning into our day.

3. Are there advantages to this new style of teaching that is focused on technology? If so, what are they?

Oh for sure! In my classroom, I try to make sure that I stay balanced with screen time and off screen time. I definitely think this pandemic has pushed teachers to learn how to effectively use technology in their classroom, so that if their class had to go remote it would be an easy adjustment for everyone. Technology is definitely a great tool, and I think the most important part is to make sure the technology you use enhances student learning in some way. For example, I don’t want to just transfer something that the kids can do on paper onto the chromebook. Paperwork can stay as paperwork because that is important. Technology is meant to differentiate student learning and enhance the benefits of the kids learning.

4. How do you encourage social interaction, even though students must remain socially distanced?

A lot of preparation goes into this. I’ve tried to be super creative and learn new techniques! For example, if I incorporate hands on learning in a lesson, I give each student their own supplies. In terms of encouraging social interaction, we do a lot of “turn and talks” so that students are consistently engaging with each other. We also do socially distanced group work with masks on and I ensure that students don't share materials. I try to incorporate many opportunities for student led conversation in my class.

5. How do you encourage a safe and effective learning environment that is free of judgement and bullying?

From day one, we have promoted kindness in our classroom. At the end of each week, we vote for someone in our class who has shown kindness all week. The recipient of the “kindness award” has many different responsibilities. Every student loves to earn the “kindness award” and other students always cheer on the person who receives it. We celebrate them, and put our reasons for voting for them on a slide for our daily slides. I believe the biggest asset in our classroom is to celebrate each other. My class is so good at celebrating each other's successes and being proud of who we are. This is valuable to not only teach, but to also model kindness to kids at a young age.

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