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Voices from Classroom: One positive thing from the virus and NTI is an appreciation for being in school

By Amanda Klare
Beechwood Elementary School

During this Non-Traditional Instruction (NTI) period, Beechwood has allowed its teachers to bring groups of five students in at a time to work with them face to face. After one of our Wednesday sessions, I was standing outside with a group of students waiting for their parents to come pick them up when I saw one of my students running.

Rose, a fourth-grade student at Beechwood, stopped her work to smile on a small group day at school.

I shouted out to her, “Haley, where are you going? Do you see your mom?” With that, Haley turned around, pulled out her phone and snapped a quick shot in the direction of the school building.

She came walking back towards me and replied, “No, I just wanted to take a picture of the school because I miss it.”

Her response took my breath away. Tears filled my eyes as I realized just how much these Wednesdays mean to our students. I recognize that on Wednesdays during NTI, I hop out of bed a little bit quicker than the other weekdays; based on what this little nine-year-old girl said, something tells me that all of the students look forward to these Wednesdays too.

There are a lot of obvious hard things that have resulted from being away from our school, but some good has come from it too. One of those positive things is the appreciation of being at school. Students (and sometimes teachers) are infamous for hoping for a snow day when the winter comes. This school year is different though; we have students and teachers holding out for a miracle to go back to school like it was before March 13, 2020.

My school is known for its copula and its early 1900s traditional brick structure. But our students don’t miss the front facade of the building; the students miss our school because of the security and love that the building offers them.

They miss their friends.
They miss group projects.
They miss their teachers.
They miss walking in the hallways on the way to Arts & Humanities.
They miss the hot lunch our cafeteria workers serve each day.
They miss playing on the playground and the football field at recess.
They miss learning with paper and pencil.

Ashley Ritchie, a second-grade teacher masked up as a mad scientist, planned a fun and safe hands on science day for her small groups.

What do teachers miss most about our students not being at school?

They miss greeting their students with a hug or a high five in the morning.
They miss being able to walk to a student’s desk when they raise their hand for help.
They miss being able to say “Now turn to your partner and talk about…”
They miss seeing old students in the hallways.
They even miss faculty meetings because that would mean getting to collaborate with all of your peers at once.

On Wednesdays it feels normal once more. Our Beechwood hallways echo with the laughter of students. You see teachers teaching engaging lessons and making the most of the time they have with their small groups of students. Parents patiently wait in the car line for their children to come back out. Even behind the masks, you can see the smiles of students, teachers and administrators through their eyes. Fridays usually get all of the love, but Wednesdays are now the new Friday.

This teacher now says, “TGIW” (Thank Goodness It’s Wednesday.)

Amanda Klare is a Hope Street Group Kentucky State Teacher Fellow alumna and a teacher at Beechwood Elementary School (Beechwood Independent). Klare created and maintains the Northern Kentucky Tribune‘s “Voices From The Classroom” feature, which highlights local teachers and their work to improve outcomes for students. She is a recipient of the 2019 Teacher Achievement Award and was a semifinalist for the 2019 Kentucky Teacher of the Year award.

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