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Time for another Educator Spotlight! Today we are featuring Kelly Robinson, a Spanish teacher at Arlington High School in Tennessee.

Ms. Robinson was kind enough to share her experience with us throughout this tumultuous year, from the difficulties of the initial transition to where she is at now, as well as the resources she uses and advice she would love to give.

Back in March of 2020, Ms. Robinson’s high school determined that Zoom calls would be voluntary for students, so the first aspect that she commented on regarding challenges was how she was worried that none of her students would turn in and she would miss out on opportunities to see their face and connect (and practice Spanish face-to-face of course). However, she was pleasantly surprised when all of her AP Spanish students eagerly tuned in just to see each other and her and continue to connect as a class.

An additional challenge was reworking her lesson plan to function virtually and to still help her students prepare for the AP tests in May, as well as to serve as an encouraging figure for students who were really struggling to keep up. She remarked how even some of the kids who are naturally very driven to succeed are falling behind as well, whether it is due to going to bed too late or early or being unable to manage their time.

When she notices students who are struggling, she makes sure to reach out with encouragement and ask if they are doing okay, and she kindly urges them to not give up yet and keep going with their work. She has found that this goes a long way and that students feel seen and valued when they hear this from her, and that they often regain some motivation to keep putting their best efforts in.

Another aspect of a blended learning approach that has required her to pivot is the nature of Spanish and other World Language courses, which is that of the important conversation practice. She has done her best to facilitate a Zoom and hybrid in-class environment where students feel like they can trust her and each other and make mistakes/learn in this new way.

Ms. Robinson also utilizes Schoology as her primary learning management system, and she appreciates how she can put all of the assignments and course information in one place. QuickTime is also a useful resource for her to record lectures for her students, and a lot of her colleagues use and recommend Loom as well. In addition, she incorporates Edpuzzle and Flipgrid to create a variety of interactive activities for students.

If she could give advice to other teachers and educators out there, Ms. Robinson would encourage them to try to stay in touch with students to the best of their abilities. She says that sometimes you might be their only link of connection during the day and you don’t know how positively you might affect them by checking in on them.

We are so thankful that Ms. Robinson spoke with us today, and we’ll see you tomorrow for our next post!

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