Teachers Excited about First Day of Remote Learning
By Kim Underwood
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools
AUGUST 14, 2020 – Yes, working remotely with students will bring challenges such as helping students and parents master the necessary technology.
At the same, second-grade teachers Rose Brown and Tayllor Miles think remote learning will bring new learning opportunities for both students and teachers.
For one, Brown and Miles – who teach at Kimberley Park Elementary – think it will help their students develop skills that will serve them well in the coming years.
With synchronous sessions – sessions in which everyone in the class meets online with the teacher at the same time – scheduled for specific times during the day, they envision their second-graders learning responsibility and independence as they make sure to get back on the computer at the right time.
Both teachers are excited about the beginning of the new school year, which begins for students on Monday Aug. 17.
“I feel great being a teacher,” she said. “I really enjoy my job. I love my students.”
This is Miles first year as a teacher.
“I am so excited to be working at Kimberley Park,” Miles said.
Miles knew going into teaching that “you have to roll with the punches.” Although she didn’t see all of this coming when she started on the path to becoming a teacher, she thinks her experiences this year with remote learning will help her develop the skills necessary to adjust to changing circumstances.
“I think it is really preparing me to flexible,” Miles said.
Brown also thinks that, in general, many of the skills teachers learn teaching students remotely will serve them when students return to the classroom.
Some teachers in the district will be teaching from home at least part of the time. Both Brown and Miles will be teaching from their classrooms each day.
Brown expects to do much of her teaching while standing by her Promethean board – an interactive whiteboard that allows teachers to project an image from a laptop or a computer, as well as interact with the board through touch or specialized pens.
With her love of dance, Miles envisions holding an online dance party with her students one day. She also plans to inspire them with such encouraging words as “The sky is the limit” and “We’re out of this world.”
Miles likes that teaching from her classroom will enable her to connect with Brown and other staff members each day.
Brown and Miles and other teachers in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools appreciate that the teaching tools available to them this school year are more sophisticated than what was possible when students began learning remotely back in March.
This year, although teachers will not be meeting in person with students, they will be able to work live with all of the students in their class at one time.
At Kimberley Park and other elementary schools, teachers will work with the whole class in several sessions during the school day. Parents can also log in as observers for those sessions.
“The parents will have the opportunity to see us teach as well,” Brown said.
At other times, students will be working on their own at home.
For the first couple of days, Miles said, parents might need to remind students that it’s time for the next session with everyone in the class. She envisions students soon taking responsibility for checking the time.
Second-graders are eager to become more independent, Brown and Miles said, and they expect them to be eager to take on that duty.
“We are giving our students a sense of autonomy,” Miles said.
Not being face-to-face in person with students, one their goals, Miles said, will be to find ways to reach out to students and their families and to be as accessible as possible.
In past years, Rose has done an excellent job doing that, said Principal Diamond Cotton.
“She knows how to get hold of every single one of her parents, and parents know how to get hold of her,” Cotton said.
Teachers at Kimberley Park began working in the school Aug. 5. Some days have been long with Brown and Miles not leaving until 7 p.m.
To make sure that students have the supplies they need at home, packets have been prepared that include such school supplies as pencils and notebook paper. The supplies were set up on tables in the auditorium so parents could pick them up.
Brown is beginning her fourth year as a teacher at Kimberley Park. Miles is beginning her first year as a teacher anywhere.
After graduating from Hampton University, Miles applied for a job as a first-grade teacher at Kimberley Park.
Brown is top-notch, said Principal Cotton Diamond, and she thought that working with Rose would serve Miles. So she offered Miles a position as a second-grade teacher that was also open so she could work with Brown.
After Miles was hired on June 1, the women met at a Panera restaurant. They continued working together in the weeks when, as 10-month employees, they weren’t officially working.
“We started collaborating,” Brown said. “We have talking all summer.”
“Pretty much every day,” Miles said. “She has been great.”
One thing Brown has emphasized with her is the importance of encouraging students.
“She pushes her students to be the best they can be,” Miles said.
How does she does that?
“I show them that I care, and I make learning fun for my students,” Brown said. “I challenge my students on a day-to-day basis.”
Knowing that each student has different talents and needs, Brown also focuses on what works best for each student.
Asked whether she has a favorite word, Brown said it’s “encouragement” because that is a big part of what teaching is about for her.
Brown grew up here and graduated from East Forsyth High in 1985. She earned her bachelor’s degree at Salem College. Before earning the master’s degree that provided the certification she needed as a teacher, Brown worked for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County for 19 years a Data Manager at such schools as Carver and Atkins high schools. Before that, she worked in daycare centers.
“I have always been around small children,” she said.
These days, she also has nine grandchildren.
Miles loves to dance, and, growing up, she taught other young people in the dance studio where she worked out – Positive Image Performing Arts. She also worked with young people at summer camps and such, and the experiences made her realize she wanted to become a teacher.
After graduating from West Forsyth High in 2016, she headed off to Hampton University in Virginia.
Having Brown and Miles collaborate has worked out well, Cotton said.
“Miss Miles and Ms. Brown have really taken off,” Cotton said.
Recent months have been both challenging and satisfying for Cotton.
As it happened, she came to the school as principal at the beginning of the March, and, before the month was over, students were learning at home because of COVID-19.
Cotton soon discovered, though, that the people already at Kimberley Park worked hard to serve students and families. And people who have come to Kimberley Park since she came are dedicated as well.
Everyone is committed to building relationships with students and their families.
“I feel really good about our staff,” Cotton said.
On Aug. 12, Kimberley Park held its Virtual Open House. The school held two sessions – one from 1 to 3 p.m. and a second session from 5 to 7 p.m. to make sure that all families would be able to attend.
Although the open house had some recorded elements, such as the introduction of staff members, for the most part, it was live, and parents were able to ask questions.
It all went really well, Cotton said.
Cotton, too, is looking forward to the coming school year.
“I’m really excited,” she said.