Anneliis Põldre is a former EFC Scholarship recipient and a fairly new teacher who faced the challenge of teaching online Kindergarten head on when schools closed due to the pandemic. As the school year drew to a close, EFC asked Anneliis to share her experiences.
My name is Anneliis Põldre and I just finished my second-year teaching French Immersion Kindergarten. This year, I had 28 students in my class with a Designated Early Childhood Educator as my teaching partner.
Online Kindergarten – two words that I don’t think will ever sound right together. Yet, when COVID-19 forced Ontario Public Schools to shutter their doors, online kindergarten became my new normal. With one week's notice, I created a website and did my best to adapt my program from a hands-on, play-based approach to completely digital.
Distance learning in kindergarten is particularly tricky because we relied on parents’ help to facilitate a lot of the logistics around online learning (logging on to the computer, typing in the URL, clicking on the appropriate tabs, etc.). This is of course a challenge for parents who continued to work throughout the lockdown period, either at home or outside of it. I worry about the students who teachers couldn’t reach because they didn’t have the help or resources they needed at home.
In the beginning, I would create and upload pre-filmed daily videos with messages, questions, and activities for the students to work through. At the end of May, we got the green light that we could start providing “synchronous learning” – or online video chatting in real time. Attempting to manage 28 kindergarten students in one Google Meet was chaotic, hilarious, and heart-warming. Towards the end of the school year, we added some fun challenges to our Google Meets, like dressing up as an animal or a virtual beach day (hence the snorkel).
I'm trying not to think about what the new academic year will look like. Information is changing constantly and I trust that the Ontario Government will do what's best for our students come September. If it's online again, teachers, parents, and students now have months of practice with all the various digital platforms. That being said, I don't think that anything can ever replace in-person, hands-on learning and I hope that we can return to some semblance of normal soon.
Want to know more? Read more stories from teachers in our community like Alexandra Wilbiks, Elli Kipper and Tiina Paluoja. Or read about our frontline healthcare workers like Teija Jõgi, Kristiina Nielander-Hildebrandt and Tomas Saun.