Every morning, Rachel Hull takes the time to have each of her students introduce themselves.
Juggling both a physical and virtual classroom due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Homer Kindergarten teacher believes it’s important for both in-person and online learners to stay connected. Even during her lessons, Hull is wheeling around the laptop in front of her to give virtual learners a quality learning experience in the comfort of their homes.
Mrs. Hull has used positivity and innovation to build classroom unity through demanding times.
“This has definitely been a challenging year, having students in the classroom that you want to make sure are engaged and learning to their full potential, as well as your kids at home. You want to make sure they’re engaged and learning as well,” Hull said. “That can be hard being at home, but one thing I think is important is every morning we do a greeting – the whole class. So our online kids are on our big screen and we wheel around the computer so that they can all greet each other by name, so our in-person kids very well know our home kids and vice versa.”
Hull has also focused on teaching her Panda Cubs and their parents about the technology available to students in the Homer Central School District.
Each of her students knows on to log in to classes through Google Meet, mute and unmute themselves, and use Seesaw for home activities. Hull also took time after school to create online tutorials to help students and their parents navigate online learning.
“They’re doing a great job with technology,” Hull said. “They love to log in. We practice, so in case they have to go home, they know how to do it. They’re doing a really great job.”
Although the times may be difficult, Hull still makes sure her students have time to just be kids. There is plenty of time to be silly, dance and even dab when celebrating their successes as students.
“Having fun in the classroom is so important, because when kids are having fun, they’re engaged,” Hull said. “They look forward to coming to school, they look forward to learning and they are so proud of their work. The Panda Cubs are great readers and writers.”
Hull has risen to the occasion to make sure her students are getting the best education possible despite the unique challenges. Throughout it all, having a strong classroom community has made everything a little easier.
“Something that we were told at the beginning of the year is that this year is going to be challenging and this year is going to be different, but at the heart of it is to love your kids, and that’s what we’re all doing,” Hull said. “I’m very lucky to be at Homer and have a great community of colleagues, students and families who want the best for the kids at Homer. We’re doing a great job in a difficult situation.”