#WordsofWisdomWednesday: Week Three

In our third installment of #WordsofWisdomWednesday, we hear from a biology teacher, and an social studies teacher. When you think of these subjects, you think of the critical importance of hands-on opportunities for students in lab experiences and in learning proper techniques and the need for visual and communal reinforcements. The two teachers you will meet in this installment show us how they are responding to this unique challenge.

Cheryl Jannuzzi is a social studies teacher at Corona del Sol. As she reflects on her emotions prior to starting the year, Cheryl says, "My emotions were all over the place. I was beyond excited to get back to some sort of normalcy and to be able to meet my students. They are why I do this job- so I was quite eager to meet them, start interacting with them, and to learn from them. I was also quite overwhelmed with all of the unknowns and logistics that we would be having to deal with. I was nervous about not being as prepared as I normally would be. Along with my professional responsibilities and unknowns, I've also been concerned about the health and safety of my family and friends. Needless to say, I've had more than one sleepless night.

Kathleen Oltesvig is a biology and health teacher at Compadre Academy. She describes her emotions as uncertain. “We didn't know whether we would be in person, in person part-time, or online. As a teacher that loves to plan ahead, not having materials ready at the beginning of the school year felt stressful. Hearing many different things from different news sources felt overwhelming, but I trusted that our district leadership would make the best decision for our students and staff."

Cheryl shared how she managed these emotions. "I have tried to make a concerted effort to remember to control what I can, be mindful that I am new to much of this, and to stay in the moment.  I've had some moments of real frustration and anxiety about not being good enough. What has helped is surrounding myself with supportive people, knowing what my strengths are,  but then also being able to lean on others.  At the end of the day, the interactions with the people in my life are what keep me grounded.  I try to stay focused on the small victories and the important things in life." Kathleen shared, “I tried to remind myself of the success I've had so far as a teacher. I've navigated through many different school districts, and even teaching in different states. Thinking about all of the challenges helped to remind me that I can do tough things. Communicating with other staff members helped to reassure me that we never tackle hard things alone; it is our school, connected as a team that gets through it together. Taking extra time to exercise, go on walks with our dogs, and make time for rest helped a lot too!"

Cheryl summarized the learning curve and emotions many teachers feel saying, "I am one who is not/was not very confident in the world of technology. I spent time in the spring and summer trying to learn from the training sessions offered. They were wonderful, but trying to put everything into practice has been a bit of a challenge. I know- with time,  it will get better. But, I know we all want to look and feel confident with tech in front of our kids, so having to jump into so many facets of tech has been hard. Honestly, the people in my department have been amazing at helping each other out and troubleshooting problems for each other.  They have been invaluable to me."  Kathleen finds herself on the technology innovator side of teaching and shared, "I've always thought of myself as relatively innovative when it comes to technology, and I LOVE creating new content, so I have embraced the challenges that come with online learning. I really wanted to make sure that my students had the tools to be successful in an online learning environment, so I spent the first week of school going over all things technology, online learning, and building a virtual community. I've made use of the tools that Google and Schoology have to offer, like "handing out," assignments through Schoology and Google Drive, and using interactive presentations through PearDeck."

To listen to more of these teachers’ reflections, click on the links below.

Cheryl Januzzi