As we move forward with planning and preparing for the school year, I have spent a lot of time reflecting on the past, as I’m well aware that virtual learning is not just a thing of the past (although we all are hopeful it will be) but is very likely to be a thing of our future.

In the 2019-2020 school year I was a preschool teacher in a toddlers and twos room. My biggest job as a teacher of such young children is to help them create a sense of independence, but also to help them love being at school. My job became very difficult once we moved to virtual learning. We took away the sense of routine of being in the classroom and the independence children gain from being away from beloved caretakers and in a school setting.

Technology was very rarely used in my classroom, so to then have to incorporate it into our daily school day was daunting. It was such a blessing to be allotted so many easy-to-use programs so that I could continue to be connected to the class and provide meaningful instruction, but most importantly for them to be able to continue to feel the sense of community that a classroom offers a child.

I utilized platforms such as Zoom to meet with the children as a whole group. This allowed the ability for the children to listen to a story being read, chat with their friends and stay connected to their school. FaceTime was amazing, because it allowed me to connect one-on-one with the children, hearing their adventures, asking questions and the thrill of being “inside” their teacher’s home.

Not only did I have the opportunity to connect with my students, but as a parent I was able to see how much my own children had the desire to stay part of their school community. They would be excited for their own class Zoom call, or enjoyed the interactive applications such as Pear Deck because it provided a much-needed break from paper-and-pencil activities.

Simply put, moving into this new school year, hopeful that we will all be together. However, I am grateful for the time in which we live and all the wonderful options we still have in order to stay connected and remain parts of communities that mean so much to our children.

Heather Freaney

Editor’s note: The writer is a teacher at Peachtree Presbyterian Preschool in Buckhead.

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