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ASD teachers head back to the classroom

Published: Aug. 13, 2020 at 4:16 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - While the children of Anchorage School District will be required to do school work at home, the buildings won’t be empty. On Thursday, the teachers got back into the classroom to prepare themselves for a year like they’ve never experienced before.

BriAnna Bierma, a seventh-grade science teacher at Begich Middle School, said she spent Thursday in Zoom meetings with administration and moving into her new classroom for the year.

Bierma and many of her colleagues want their students back in their classroom but said now’s just not the time. Bierma said she’s not worried about catching COVID herself, but if she were to pass it along to a vulnerable coworker or student with vulnerable family members it wouldn’t be worth it to have them in class.

She said she’s also glad that it’s not a partially in-class model like the first plan was. Now, she thinks she and the other teachers will be able to focus on teaching online and do it well rather than go back and forth every week.

She shares the confidence of district leaders in what school will be in the coming months and urges parents to remain positive.

“This first quarter at least, there’s been a lot of time, and a lot of minds put together to prepare. This isn’t an emergency response this time. This is a thoughtfully planned start to the school year,” Bierma said.

Bierma said she knows this year will be harder to connect with some kids through a screen, but is looking at this as an opportunity to reach her students in a different way.

She plans on getting straight to the relationship building part of being a teacher over the first week and setting a tone that when children are doing work for her class learning will be happening.

“Instead of seeing the online complications as a deficit to building relationships, I’m really choosing to see them as an opportunity to get to know students in a different way,” she said.

Bierma went on to explain that she can still get students thinking creatively in her class. Creativity comes back to her in her plan for this year as well. She said she’s been getting educated herself on how to put together videos to demonstrate to the kids some aspects of the curriculum.

While she misses her students, she’s glad at least she’ll be in the classroom. She thinks it will help the children feel more like they’re at school and it puts her back in her element.

“Well, at home I live in a really small house, and I don’t have an office so I was teaching at the kitchen table,” she said. “Being here lets me access all of my materials but it also just puts me in that space -- that teacher space where my brain works the best.”

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