Lori Yurkovich, M.Ed

Spectrum Charter School
Monroeville, PA
Lori Yurkovich, M.Ed, Instructional Lead Teacher

“Look for the Good”

As my students enter the building each morning, it looks different. They come in wearing masks, get their temperatures checked, answer four questions, and sanitize their hands. My online students make small talk with each other laughing and sharing things they enjoy, waiting patiently for their classmates to enter the building and put their things away. Once everyone gets settled, 6 feet apart behind plastic desk shields, we begin the day. I make sure I am not on mute, ask the students online if they can hear me, and remind them they must have their videos on. Students learning face-to-face often have to repeat themselves as their voices are muffled behind their masks. Fifteen years of teaching didn’t prepare me for this. But as I look beyond my plastic shield at my students in front of me and to those online, I know I must look for the good.

During a science lesson, I asked my students to join me at the table. I watch them move their chairs to the space, they are careful. Careful not to get too close to each other but close enough to see the experiment. I bring along the computer and position it so my online students are also at the table. I introduce the science lesson and begin the hands-on activity. It starts to feel “normal” again. I hear predictions. I hear conversations. I hear learning. As I sit back for a moment and watch, I notice the interaction between them all. The online learners are telling the face-to-face learners what objects to use in the experiment and the face-to-face students are explaining in detail the outcome to the online students. They too look for the good.

Students achieve success by interacting and learning by experience. I enjoy making lessons hands-on, fun, and exciting. I thrive seeing them interacting, laughing, and learning with each other. To accommodate students online I create breakout rooms on Zoom or physically move the laptop placing it close to the learning groups. Lessons are completed in Google Classroom and submitted electronically when they are finished. Chromebooks are lugged back and forth from home to school daily, in case of an unexpected school closure. I make each lesson as interactive as possible for all learners. Although our learning environment has greatly changed (and fingers crossed it’s temporary), we all must look for the good as we are still able to continue to share our passion of teaching and learning. Sometimes we just need that reminder to look beyond the times of change or struggle and look for the good around us.

Disclaimer: Content provides insights on education practices from the perspective of schools, parents, students, grantees, community members and other education stakeholders to promote the continuing discussion of educational innovation. Content and articles are not intended to reflect their importance, nor is it intended to be an endorsement by the Department or the Federal government of any views expressed, products or services offered, curriculum or pedagogy.