#WordsofWisdomWednesday- Week Twelve

This week we are featuring innovative Special education English teacher, Jon Belkis from Marcos de Niza.  As you will see in his video, Jon found ways to work with the technology to make sure his virtual and in-person students could connect to each other.  As he explains, “Like all teaching, virtual and hybrid teaching is a constant process of reform. I am continuing to use many of the online tools such as Flipgrid and Padlet. Organizing my Schoology class to make it easily accessible to special education students is also something I continually work on.”

When asked what the greatest part of having students back on campus is, Jon replies, “The greatest part of having students back in the classroom is the energy that they bring. It is obvious to me that all students want to learn even if a few act as if they don't.”

In thinking about that challenge, Jon elaborates, “The biggest challenge I face is with the few students who are apathetic despite various communications with home. Some families have more assets and are better equipped to support their students. I presume that many of the students who are disengaged also are from families that are struggling economically or otherwise due to the pandemic. I continue to reach out and offer support. When students have arrived after being absent for many weeks, I welcome them and let them know that I will work with them so that they can earn credit and, of course, master the learning targets.”

Jon is quick to remind us, we have teams of people helping us address our challenges. He describes some of the people supporting him, saying, “Brian Blackwelder and Jill Windsor have been invaluable in getting apathetic students to engage and attend. Jamaica Drowne has shown excellent leadership in our special education department. It is obvious to me that the administrative team at Marcos is understanding and supportive.

When thinking about the words of wisdom the teachers would offer, Jon reminds us, “When you are getting stressed remember to look at the big picture. This is a pandemic and we might as well be positive. Past generations have been through far worse. Do the best you can and try to be at peace. Experiment with what works and discard what doesn't.”

To see more of how this innovative teacher is using the technology to connect in-person and virtual students, watch his special video message.