Lessons Learned: Educators debrief a unique school year

Educators and education support professionals from across Wisconsin gathered virtually on Tuesday, June 10th to share in the reflections about the struggles, successes, and lessons learned during teaching this spring led by a panel of WEAC member educators.  Each of the educator’s inspiring stories built upon one another and on their desire to maintain community with students and families during a time when they couldn’t connect in person.  The webinar was a collaboration between WEAC and the WEA Academy with educators joining because they sought knowledge from one another.  

Chris Gleason, instrumental music educator and member of the Sun Prairie Education Association, shared what he referred to as the five stages of COVID teaching chronicling his initial optimism followed by difficult realities shared by many Wisconsin Educators.  Science Teacher Rick Erickson, member of the Bayfield Education Association, shared how his district’s collaborative approach in rolling out their distance learning plan along with a deep focus on relationships with students and families led to a smoother transition in implementing the changes. 

Sarah Schnuelle, member of the Jefferson Education Association, shared her story as a parent of young children finding ways to balance her role as a reading and math interventionist while simultaneously serving as a support system for not only her students, but also for her family. This was shared by Denmark art teacher Sarah Fredrikson, whose husband is also a teacher, explained her collaborative partnership with the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, showing how using a broader network offered different virtual possibilities for her students.  Sarah also noted the difficulties in one household with two teachers who were both working and caring for their four children all under the age of five.

Whitewater elementary music educator Justin Kamp shared the multiple adaptations that he and his colleagues made to reach out to and connect with students and families.  While Amy Miller, 5th and 6th grade multi-age teacher from Shorewood, shared her approach to student wellness check-ins through personal delivery of materials.

Lake Holcombe school counselor Barb Van Doorn reminded participants of ways that educators just stepped in when the changes were announced in March and are leading the way toward the development of plans for what school may entail in the fall.