Noelle: I would like to talk about and get your
perspective on what happened last year when school didn't close. There
was this temporary interruption and you had to adjust. What you learned
then and how you have maintained that learning and continue to support
your parents and students today.
Angelica: Last year, when we were hit with the
pandemic, we had to find a different way of delivering our lessons to
our students. The district chose a platform which most of our lessons
were on that platform. It wasn't live. It was just we would create
lessons and we would share them with the students through that platform.
We were all learning the process. That's how we ended last year.
Noelle: You were asynchronous, then, last year.
Noelle: Describe to me and our listeners, did you
have a piercing in your heart? Because, I think that's probably what I
know I would have felt. What do you mean I can't be in front of and be
with my students? How did you feel emotionally?
Angelica: We had been with them for three marking
periods. It happened right after spring break when the schools were
temporarily closed, or back then we thought it was temporarily closed,
but we had been with them most of the year. And then all of sudden it
ended, they would ask me, "What is it that you missed the most?" I would
miss seeing them. I missed hugging them. Listening to their stories,
because they all had stories to share, and their jokes.
Back then, I'm going to be very honest with you, I would tell
everybody, whoever would ask me, "How have you felt this?" You know
what? Something that I would say, because I am close to retiring, I
think I have about a year and a half or two to go, last year I would
say, "This pandemic has proved to me that I'm not ready to retire."
Because, I've learned and I realize how much I miss the kids, how much I
miss being with the kids, having the kids in front of me, listening to
them, teaching them. I did miss them. I think we all did.
As teachers, we also miss the camaraderie with the teachers, the
school environment. Because, as teachers, school is our life. I mean,
this is where we spend of our day. And then, we go home and we continue
working. Weekends, we continue planning.
Noelle: I know. Angelica, have you ever been told by your family to stop talking in your teacher voice?
Noelle: Oh, okay. It happens to me, even still. It's just, you can't shake it.
Angelica: No. You know what? In our conversations,
my husband is also in the district. Sometimes, we say, "Okay, we're not
going to talk about work," but then that's most of my day, so that's
part of my life. That's my life. That is my life. I spend more time here
in my classroom than I do at home. But yes. It got to the point, when
my daughter was younger, and even when my boys were younger too, they
wanted to say something and they knew that if they raised their hand, I
would call on them and I would listen to them. But yes, I think as
Noelle: I remember, when I first started teaching
and getting used to hearing my name said so many times, that when I
would initially get home or go home and visit my mother for the weekend,
and I would just get to a place where I would tune everything out. She
would be calling me. She's like, "Don't you hear me?" I'm just like,
"I'm so sorry. I'm decompressing. I can't handle my name being said one
more time." I'm curious, have you ever had that moment too? It's almost
like you're overstimulated.
Angelica: Yes. Yes. It happens all the time. It's
like one of those examples like when you are a mom, you hear mom and you
automatically turn. It's the same thing. As teachers, it’s like that.
You know what? When you mention about the voice, I remember last year,
like I said, that we were creating our lessons and then sharing them.
Well I started recording myself. Because I thought, okay, my
kindergartners cannot read. So I started recording my voice. I remember
my daughter would listen to me, and she says, "You sound so much like a
teacher." I'm like, "Well, I am a teacher. That's why I sound like
that." I want to sound like a teacher.
I want my kids to feel that, even though they're at home, I'm still
there with them and I'm still teaching them. Even though I'm not
physically there, I just felt that by me recording my voice, first of
all, that was making it easier for them, because I knew some kids, their
parents weren't there to read it to them or do it with them. I figured,
if I record myself with the instructions and whatever I'm teaching
them, delivering my lesson just through my voice, I thought, "You know
what? At least that's going to make them feel that they're still with me
or that I'm there with them." But yes, I was using my teacher voice.
Noelle: I'm sure, if they were with you for three
marking periods, they're also hearing your voice and they're remembering
and thinking back to their classroom, because they loved that.
Angelica, you didn't have closure, and this school year you started
virtually. How did you welcome in kindergartners virtually?
Angelica: You know what? It was very hard. You know
why? We have some students that they didn't go to Pre-K. This is their
first experience in a school, even though they're not physically in a
classroom, in a school. When I heard that I had some students that
didn't go to Pre-K, the parents shared that with us, that broke my
heart, because I thought...I mean, I'm trying my best to give them a
very good experience, but I thought, they're not in a building. They're
not in a classroom environment. To them, to those students that this is
their first year in school, this is what they know. They're just seeing a
teacher. To them, school is, I sit in front of a computer and I have
this lady talking to me.
I guess, last year, it was the other way around, where we knew them.
We missed not having the closure. This year, it hurts as much because
we've seen them a couple of times. There's been a couple of times where
we asked the principal...For Christmas, we thought, we just need to
meet them. We asked for permission if we could have a drive-by. Just
seeing their faces, I got home and I felt that I was complete. You know
what? Another thing that was, it's amazing how the personal connection
is so important, the seeing eye-to-eye. You know what? When I see them
on the screen, because they're so close to the screen, to me they look
so big. When I saw them inside their vehicle, you see this little tiny
body. I'm like, "Oh my God, they're so tiny."