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Central Texas teachers ready for second year in the classroom after “wild” first year

Published: Aug. 13, 2021 at 5:49 AM CDT
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TEMPLE, Texas (KWTX) - Last year was Emma and Bryant King’s first year in the classroom, and it was nothing like they expected.

“It was wild,” Emma said. “It really was.”

Emma said in college, you learn a lot about the way your classroom will look and how students will interact, but she said last year, none of those things applied.

Emma was taught first grade at Kennedy Powell Elementary School, all in-person, while Bryant taught sixth and seventh grade science, both in person and virtual, at Lamar Middle School.

Emma said she had to readjust how she taught, since younger students do a lot of group work and sharing, and that wasn’t possible because of the pandemic.

“All we ever use is manipulatives and we share things and that’s the way it is,” Emma said. “I think that there were just a lot of Ziploc baggies in our room with things like counted out and spread out so that we could still have those same experiences because that’s how they learn.”

Bryant said as a first year teacher, you look up to others you work with. However, with virtual learning everyone was learning together about what worked and what didn’t. Bryan also is a coach, and he said inflexible athletes get injured the most, and there was a parallel there for teachers.

“Inflexible teachers had a harder time because you had to bend and adapt to what your online kids needed what your in person kids needed what is required from the district from the school from everyone outside,” Bryant said. “And so I really do think that coming out of this. We learned to be persistent and flexible”

Despite the challenges that last year brought, Emma and Bryant are excited about seeing all of their students in-person.

Bryant said it was difficult having students online last year, especially because when they needed help, he couldn’t always be there right away.

He said some days, he would check his email and see a student asking for help, only to see another email a few hours later saying they had figured it out. Bryant said it was hard to see and hear about his students struggling.

“No teacher wants to see their students struggle. If we do, it’s because we are hoping for there to be progress,” Bryant said. “You know, progress has not come easily, especially when it’s uncharted territory for everybody. And so it was difficult to kind of talk on the phone and just hear them be discouraged or see them on Zoom, and then just be really confused in the beginning.”

Over time, Bryant said those relationships did grow, even if it was significantly slower because they weren’t together in person every day, so that is something he’s excited for, but also something that will be a new experience.

“I think it would just be a little bit of an adjustment to see everybody back up and that is something we’re incredibly excited for,” Bryant said.

“I think after the past year, we’re like, well, we figured all that out, we’ll figure it out, it’ll be fine,” Emma said.

Both Bryant and Emma said they are excited to see their students grow and learn this year, and to experience new things, especially after the difficulties of the pandemic.

Emma said after virtual learning in the spring of 2020, her students had some catching up to do last year, and that may still be the case. However, the Kings said students should remember not to compare their progress to other students in the class.

“As long as we’re seeing progress as long as we’re seeing growth, we’re moving in the right direction, even if it’s minute in the beginning, if we’re tracking that student is able to track that himself, I think that’s huge,” Bryant said.

This year, Emma will teach third grade at Kennedy Powell Elementary School, and Bryant will teach seventh grade science at Lamar Middle School.

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