Patricia A. Boggs
Bishop Heelan Catholic Schools
Sioux City, IA
Patricia A. Boggs, Teacher
Meeting challenges, constantly adapting, patience, and maintaining a sense of humor and positive attitude have been the words that have guided me throughout the process of returning to the classroom. As I began reading articles and processing what I would need to do to ensure the safety of my third graders, I found myself rethinking the layout of my classroom, the structure of the day, delivery of instruction, and the increased importance of my students’ mental health.
One of the first things I did was sit in the middle of my classroom and assess what changes needed to be made. I moved out all of the soft, comfy furniture and placed my classroom library bookcases to the perimeter of my room. My intention was to open up the floor space to maximize the distancing between the students’ desks. The rows of desks were alternated in order to give the students more space. I utilized shelves for the students to keep their extra supplies in individual baskets. The children keep their library books in a Ziploc bag to keep them as clean as possible.
The children begin their day by sanitizing their desks. I have three sanitizing stations in my classroom. Upon entering and exiting, we follow the motto: Clean in and clean out. The students wear masks all day with the exceptions of lunch and recess. They cannot mix with the other third grade classroom at lunch or at recess because we stay in our cohorts. My children have never complained about all of the changes.
Our special classes have had to make adjustments as well. Music is taught in my classroom and as long as the Iowa weather holds out, PE is outside. One of my concerns focused on guided reading. I had no clue how I was going to teach it with the idea of proper social distancing. My worries were resolved when my principal delivered clear foldable standalone dividers for the tables. These had been donated by a family in our system. We refer to them as “being in your bubble.” Other examples of families stepping up to help are the donations of lanyards for the masks and amplifiers.
I am very proud of how my students have adapted. They are so happy to be back in school that they have accepted all of the changes with grace. I make it my mission to talk to as many of them as possible on a daily basis to simply check in. The way school looks is different, but the purpose isn’t.
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